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BY THE SAME author 




Oj^cial Corrtspondent "with the 
Egyptian Expeditionary Force 

Crou'H IIt'o 68. lut 

An Account of the work of the Imperial 
Forces in the Deserts of Egypt and 
Sinai. Illustrated with Drawings by 
Jamks M'Hey, taken on the spot for 
His Majesty's Government. 

' This record, by the correspondent who was 
selected by the Chief London Newspapers to 
accompany the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 
will serve to bring home to the British Public 
the great work done by our arms in keeping open 
the gateway between P'a^t and West." — Times 
Literary Supplement. 

'Mr Massey . . . tells his story well and 
simply.' — The Observer. 

'The admirable drawings by Mr James M'Bey, 
the official artist with the E. E. F., add greatly 
to the pleasure of reading this excellent little 
history.' — Morning; Post. 



Dec. II, 1917 
















Ct/iA- £^ 

Printed* in Cfreat Britain 

. .* •• • • • 

• • • 

• • • 




. This narrative of the work accomplished for civilisa- 
-^tion by Greneral Allenby's Army is carried only as far 
as the occupation of Jericho. The capture of that 
ancient town, with the possession of a Hne of rugged 
hills a dozen miles north of Jerusalem, secured the 
Holy City from any Turkish attempt to retake it. 
The book, in fact, tells the story of the twenty-third 
fall of Jerusalem, one of the most beneficent happen- 
ings of all wars, and marking an epoch in the wonderful 
history of the Holy Place which will rank second only 
to that era which saw the birth of Christianity. All 
that occurred in the fighting on the Gaza-Beersheba 
hne was part and parcel of the taking of Jerusalem, 
the freeing of which from four centuries of Turkish 
domination was the object of the first part of the 
campaign. The Holy City was the goal sought by 
every officer and man in the Army ; and though from 
the moment that goal had been attained all energies 
were concentrated upon driving the Turk out of the 
war, there was not a member of the Force, from the 
highest on the Staff to the humblest private in the 
ranks, who did not feel that Jerusalem was the 
greatest prize of the campaign. 

In a second volume I shall tell of that tremendous 
feat of arms which overwhelmed the Turkish Armies, 
drove them through 400 miles of country in six 
weeks, and gave cavaby an opportunity of proving 


that, despite all the arts and devices of modern war- 
fare, with fighters and observers in the air and an 
entirely new mechanism of war, they continued as 
indispensable a part of an army as when the legions 
of old took the field. This is too long a story to be 
told in this volume, though the details of that mag- 
nificent triumph are so firmly impressed on the mind 
that one is loth to leave the narration of them to a 
future date. For the moment Jerusalem must be 
suthcient, and if in the telling of the British work up 
to that point I can succeed in giving an idea of the 
immense value of General Allenby's Army to the 
Empire, of the soldier's courage and fortitude, of his 
indomitable will and self-sacrifice and patriotism, it 
will indeed prove the most grateful task I have ever 
set myself. 

April 1919. 











INDEX ..... 

























Plan of Southern Palestine ..... 7 

Plan of Gaza-Beersheba Line .... 94 

Plan of the Beth-Horon Country . . . 156 

Plan of the Battle of Jerusalem . . . 194 



Official Entry into the Holy City. General Allenby 
received by the military governor of jerusalem, 
December 11, 1917 Frontisfiece 


EIantara Terminus of the Desert Military Eailway . 20 ' 

East Force H.Q. Dug-outs near Gaza 

Wadi Ghuzze near Shellal .... 

Our Waterworks at Shellal .... 

On the Move in the Desert .... 
The Great Mosque at Gaza .... 

Turkish Headquarters at Gaza. Note the Crusader Lion 

in Wall 

A Desert Motor Koad near Shellal . - . 

Turkish Dug-outs at Gaza 

Beersheba Railway Station with Mined Rolling 

Lieut.-Gen. Sir Harry Chauvel outside Beersheba 

Mosque, November 1, 1917 .... 
El Mughar. The Scene of a Yeomanry Charge 

Burial-place of St. George, Patron Saint of England 
(at Ludd) ........ 

Yeomanry Graves at Beth-horon the Upper, where 
Joshua commanded the Sun to remain still to 
enable the Israelites to overthrow the Philis- 

In the Judean Hills 

A Roman Centurion's Tomb, Kuryet el Enab 












One of King Solomon's Pools 162 

A Typical New Zealandeii 163 

Wadi Surar, crossed by London Territorials on the 
Morning of their Assault on the Jerusalem De- 
fences ........ 176 

The Deib Yesin Position west of Jerusalem . . 177 

Eastern Face of Nebi Samwil Mosque, showing De- 
struction BY Turkish Shell-fire . . . 192 

Official Entry into the Holy City. General Allenby 

arriving outside the Jaffa Gate . . . 193 

Officlal Entry. General Allenby receiving the 

Mayor of Jerusalem (a descendant of Mahomet) 208 

Jerusalem from Mount of Olives .... 209 

Jerusalem from Garden of Gethsemane . . . 216 
Panel in the Chapel of the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria. 

Hospice on the Mount of Oliv^bs . . . 217 

Bethlehem 226 

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem .... 227 

Ain Kartm, Part of the Jerusalem Defences . . 234 

River Auja, crossed at Night by Lowland Territorials 236 

Jerisheh Mill, River Auja, one of the Lowlanders 


Barrel Bridge over the River Auja 

Destroyed Bridge on the Jericho Road . 

The Wilderness, with a Glimpse of the Dead Sea 

Londoners' Bridge over the Jordan. The River is 

in Flood 

German Prisoners crossing the Jordan 

New Zealand Mounted Rifles at Bethlehem 
A Hairpin Bend on the Jerusalem Road . 







In a war which involved the peoples of the four 
quarters of the globe it was to be expected that on 
the world's oldest battleground would be renewed 
the scenes of conflict of bygone ages. There was 
perhaps a desire of some elements of both sides, 
certainly it was the unanimous wish of the AUies, 
to avoid the clash of arms in Palestine, and to leave 
untouched by armies a land held in reverence by 
three of the great rehgions of the world. But this 
ancient cockpit of warring races could not escape. 
The will of those who broke the peace prevailed. 
Germany's dream of Eastern Empires and world 
domination, the lust of conquest of the Kaiser party, 
required that the tide of war should once more surge 
across the land, and if the conquering hosts left 
fewer traces of war wreckage than were to be expected 
in their victorious march, it was due not to any 
anxiety of our foes to avoid conflict about, and 
damage to, places with hallowed associations, but 
to the masterly strategy of the British Commander- 
in-Chief who manoeuvred the Turkish Armies out of 
positions defending the sacred sites. 

The people of to-day who have lived through the 
war, who have had their view bewildered by ever- 
recurring anxieties, by hopes shattered and fears 
realised, by a succession of victories and defeats on 
a colossal scale, and by a sudden collapse of the 
enemy, may fail to see the Palestine campaign in 


service elsewhere, but to recruit a large force of Indians 
for the Empire's work in other climes. Bagdad was 
a tremendous blow to German ambitions. The loss 
of it spelt ruin to those hopes of Eastern conquest 
which had prompted the German intrigues in Turkey, 
and it was certain that the Kaiser, so long as he 
beheved in ultimate victory, would refuse to accept 
the loss of Bagdad as final. Russia's withdrawal 
as a belligerent released a large body of Turkish 
troops in the Caucasus, and set free many Germans, 
particularly ' technical troops ' of which the Turks 
stood in need, for other fronts. It was then that the 
German High Command conceived a scheme for 
retaking Bagdad, and the redoubtable von Ealken- 
hayn was sent to Constantinople charged with the 
preparations for the undertaking. Certain it is that 
it would have been put into execution but for the 
situation created by the presence of a large British 
Army in the Sinai Peninsula. A large force was 
collected about Aleppo for a march down the Eu- 
phrates valley, and the winter of 1917-18 would 
have witnessed a stern struggle for supremacy in 
Mesopotamia if the War Cabinet had not decided to 
force the Turks to accept battle where they least 
wanted it. 

The views of the British War Cabinet on the war 
in the East, at any rate, were sound and solid. They 
concentrated on one big campaign, and, profiting 
from past mistakes which led to a wastage of strength, 
allowed all the weight they could spare to be thrown 
into the Eg3^tian Expeditionary Force under a 
General who had proved his high military capacity 
in France, and in whom all ranks had complete con- 
fidence, and they permitted the Mesopotamian and 
Salonika Armies to contain the enemies on their fronts 
while the Army in Palestine set out to crush the Turks 


at what proved to be their most vital point. As to 
whether the force available on our Mesopotamia 
front was capable of defeating the German scheme 
I cannot offer an opinion, but it is beyond all question 
that the conduct of operations in Palestine on a plan 
at once bold, resolute, and worthy of a high place in 
mihtary history saved the Empire much anxiety 
over our position in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, 
and probably prevented unrest on the frontiers of 
India and in India itself, where mischief makers were 
actively working in the German cause. Nor can 
there be any doubt that the brilliant campaign in 
Palestine prevented British and French influence 
declining among the Mahomedan populations of 
those countries' respective spheres of control in Africa. 
Indeed I regard it as incontrovertible that the 
Palestine strategy of General Allenby, even apart 
from his stupendous rush through Syria in the 
autumn of the last year of war, did as much to end 
the war in 1918 as the great battles on the Western 
Front, for if there had been failure or check in 
Palestine some British and French troops in France 
might have had to be detached to other fronts, and 
the Germans' effort in the Spring might have pushed 
their line farther towards the Channel and Paris. If 
Bagdad was not actually saved in Palestine, an ex- 
pedition against it was certainly stopped by our 
Army operating on the old battlegrounds in Palestine. 
We lost many lives, and it cost us a vast amount of 
money, but the sacrifices of brave men contributed 
to the saving of the world from German domination ; 
and high as the British name stood in the East as 
the upholder of the freedom of peoples, the fame of 
Britain for justice, fair dealing, and honesty is wider 
and more firmly estabHshed to-day because the people 
have seen it emerge triumphantly from a supreme test. 


In the strategy of the w orld war we made, no doubt, 
many mistakes, but in Palestine the strategy was of 
the best, and in the working out of a far-seeing scheme, 
victories so iniiucnced events that on this front began 
the fhial phase of the war — once Turkey was beaten, 
Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary submitted and Ger- 
many acknowledged the inevitable. Falkenhayn 
saw that the Bagdad undertaking was impossible so 
long as we were dangerous on the Palestine front, 
and General Allenby's attack on the Gaza hne wiped 
the Bagdad enterprise out of the list of German 
ambitions. The plan of battle on the Gaza-Beer- 
sheba line resembled in miniature the ending of the 
war. If we take Beersheba for Turkey, Sheria and 
Hareira for Bulgaria and Austria, and Gaza for 
Germany, we get the exact progress of events in 
the final stage, except that Bulgaria's submission 
was an intelligent anticipation of the laying down of 
their arms by the Turks. Gaza- Beersheba was a 
rolling up from our right to left ; so was the ending 
of the Hun aUiance. 

Consiabi* k Co. Ltd, 



It was in accordance with the fitness of things that 
the British Army should fight and conquer on the 
very spots consecrated by the memories of the most 
famous battles of old. From Gaza onwards we made 
our progress by the most ancient road on earth, for 
this way moved commerce between the Euphrates 
and the NRe many centuries before the East knew 
West. We fought on fields which had been the battle- 
grounds of Egyptian and Assyrian armies, where 
Hittites, Ethiopians, Persians, Parthians, and Mongols 
poured out their blood in times when kingdoms were 
strong by the sword alone. The Ptolemies invaded 
Syria by this way, and here the Greeks put their 
colonising hands on the country. Alexander the 
Great made this his route to Egypt. Pompey 
marched over the Maritime Plain and inaugurated 
that Roman rule which lasted for centuries ; till 
Islam made its wide irresistible sweep in the seventh 
century. Then the Crusaders fought and won and 
lost, and Napoleon's ambitions in the East were 
wrecked just beyond the plains. 

Up the Maritime Plain we battled at Gaza, every 
yard of which had been contested by the armies of 
mighty kings in the past thirty-five centuries, at 
Akir, Gezer, Lydda, and around Joppa. All down 
the ages armies have moved in victory or flight over 
this plain, and General AUenby in his advance was 
but repeating history. And when the Turks had 


been driven beyond the Plain of Philistia, and the 
Ck)mmander-in-Chief had to decide how to take 
Jerusalem, we saw the British force move along 
precisely the same route that has been taken by 
armies since the time when Joshua overcame the 
Amorites and the day was lengthened by the sun 
and moon standing still till the battle was won. 
Greography had its influence on the strategy of to-day 
as completely as it did when armies were not cum- 
bered with guns and mechanical transport. Of the few 
passes from the Maritime Plain over the Shephelah 
into the Judean range only that emerging from 
the green Vale of Ajalon was possible, if we were to 
take Jerusalem, as the great captains of old took it, 
from the north. The Syrians sometimes chose this 
road in preference to advancing through Samaria, 
the Romans suffered retreat on it, Richard Coeur de 
Lion made it the path for his approach towards the 
Holy City, and, precisely as in Joshua's day and as 
when in the first century the Romans fell victims to 
a tremendous Jewish onslaught, the fighting was 
hardest about the Beth-horons, but with a different 
result — the invaders were victorious. The corps 
which actually took Jerusalem advanced up the new 
road from Latron through Kuryet el Enab, identified 
by some as Kirjath-jearim where the Philistines 
returned the Ark, but that road would have been 
denied to us if we had not made good the ancient 
path from the Vale of Ajalon to Gibeon. Jerusalem 
was won by the fighting at the Beth-horons as 
surely as it was on the line of hills above the wadi 
Surar which the Londoners carried. There was 
fighting at Gibeon, at Michmas, at Beeroth, at Ai, 
and numerous other places made familiar to us by 
the Old Testament, and assuredly no army went 
forth to battle on more hallowed soil. 


Of all the armies which earned a place in history 
in Palestine, General Allenby's was the greatest — the 
greatest in size, in equipment, in quality, in fighting 
power, and not even the invading armies in the ro- 
mantic days of the Crusades could equal it in chivalry. 
It fought the strong fight with clean hands through- 
out, and finished without a blemish on its conduct. 
It was the best of all the conquering armies seen in 
the Holy Land as well as the greatest. Will not the 
influence of this Army endure ? I think so. There 
is an awakening in Palestine, not merely of Christians 
and Jews, but of Moslems, too, in a less degree. 
During the last thirty years there have grown more 
signs of the deep faiths of peoples and of their venera- 
tion of this land of sacred history. If their insti- 
tutions and missions could develop and shed light 
over Palestine even while the slothful and corrupt 
Turk ruled the land, how much faster and more in 
keeping with the sanctity of the country will the im- 
provement be under British protection ? The graves 
of our soldiers dotted over desert wastes and corn- 
fields, on barren hills and in fertile valleys, ay, and 
on the Mount of OHves where the Saviour trod, will 
mark an era more truly grand and inspiring, and 
offer a far greater lesson to future generations than 
the Crusades or any other invasion down the track 
of time. The Army of General Allenby responded 
to the happy thought of the Commander-in-Chief 
and contributed one day's pay for the erection of a 
memorial near Jerusalem in honour of its heroic dead. 
Apart from the holy sites, no other memorial will be 
revered so much, and future pilgrims, to whatever 
faith they belong, will look upon it as a monument to 
men who went to battle to bring lasting peace to a 
land from which the Word of Peace and Goodwill 
went forth to mankind. 


In selecting General Sir Edmund Allenby as the 
Palestine Army's chief the War Cabinet made a happy 
choice. General Sir Archibald Murray was recalled 
to take up an important command at home after 
the two unsuccessful attempts to drive the Turks 
from the Gaza defences. The troops at General 
Murray's disposal were not strong enough to take 
the offensive again, and it was clear there must 
be a long period of preparation for an attack on a 
large scale. General Allenby brought to the East a 
lengthy experience of fighting on the Western Front, 
where his deliberate methods of attack, notably at 
Arras, had given the Alhes victories over the cleverest 
and bravest of our enemies. Palestine was likely to 
be a cavalry, as well as an infantry, campaign, or at 
any rate the theatre of war in which the mounted 
arm could be employed with the most fruitful of 
results. General Allenby' s achievements as a cavalry 
leader in the early days of the war marked him as 
the one officer of high rank suited for the Palestine 
command, and his proved capacity as a General both 
in open and in trench warfare gave the Army that 
high degree of confidence in its Commander-in-Chief 
which it is so necessary that a big fighting force should 
possess. A tremendously hard worker himself. 
General Allenby expected all under him to concen- 
trate the whole of their energies on their work. He 
had the faculty for getting the best out of his officers, 
and on his Staff were some of the most enthusiastic 
soldiers in the service. There was no room for an 
inefficient leader in any branch of the force, and the 
knowledge that the Commander-in-Chief valued the 
lives and the health of his men so highly that he would 
not risk a failure, kept all the staffs tuned up to concert 
pitch. We saw many changes, and the best men came 
to the top. His own vigour infected the whole com- 


mand, and within a short while of arriving at the 
front the efficiency of the Army was considerably 

The Palestine G.H.Q. was probably nearer the 
battle front than any G.H.Q. in other theatres of 
operations, and when the Army had broken through 
and chased the enemy beyond the Jaffa- Jerusalem 
line, G.H.Q. was opened at Bir Salem, near Ramleh, 
and for several months was actually within reach of 
the long-range guns which the Turks possessed. The 
rank and file were not slow to appreciate this. They 
knew their Commander-in-Chief was on the spot, 
keeping his eye and hand on everything, organising 
with his organisers, planning with his operation 
staff, familiar with every detail of the complicated 
transport system, watching his supply services with 
the keenness of a quartermaster- general, and taking 
that lively interest in the medical branch whrch be- 
trayed an anxious desire for the welfare and health 
of the men. The rank and file knew something more 
than this. They saw the Commander-in-Chief at 
the front every day. General Allenby did not rely 
solely on reports from his corps. He went to each 
section of the line himself, and before practically 
every major operation he saw the ground and ex- 
amined the scheme for attack. There was not a 
part of the line he did not know, and no one will 
contradict me when I say that the military roads in 
Palestine were known by no one better than the 
driver of the Commander-in-Chief's car. A man of 
few words. General Allenby always said what he 
meant with soldierly directness, which made the thanks 
he gave a rich reward. A good piece of work brought 
a written or oral message of thanks, and the men 
were satisfied they had done well to deserve con- 
gratulations. They were proud to have the con- 


fidence of such a Chief and to deserve it, and they 
in their turn had such unbounded faith in the miUtary 
judgment of the General and in the care he took to 
prevent unnecessary risk of life, that there was nothing 
which he sanctioned that they would not attempt. 
Such mutual confidence breeds strength, and it was 
the Commander-in-Chief's example, his tact, energy, 
and military genius which made his Army a potent 
power for Britain and a strong pillar of the Allies' 

Let it not be imagined that General Allenby in his 
victorious campaign shone only as a great soldier. 
He was also a great administrator. In England little 
was known about this part of the General's work, 
and owing to the difficulties of the task and to the 
consideration which had, and still has, to be show^n to 
the susceptibilities of a number of friendly nations 
and peoples, it may be long before the full story of 
the administration of the occupied territory in 
Palestine is unfolded for general appreciation. It 
is a good story, worthy of Britain's record as a pro- 
tector of peoples, and though from the nature of his 
conquest over the Turks in the Bible country the name 
of General Allenby will adorn the pages of history 
principally as a victor, it will also stand before the 
governments of states as setting a model for a wise, 
prudent, considerate, even benevolent, administration 
of occupied enemy territory. In days when Powers 
driven mad by military ambition tear up treaties as 
scraps of paper. General Allenby observed the spirit as 
well as the letter of the Hague Convention, and found 
it possible to apply to occupied territory the prin- 
ciples of administration as laid down in the Manual 
of Military Law. 

The natives marvelled at the change. In place of 
insecurity, extortion, bribery and corruption, levies 


on labour and property and all the evils of Turkish 
government, General Allenby gave the country behind 
the front Hne peace, justice, fair treatment of every 
race and creed, and a jQrm and equitable adminis- 
tration of the law. Every man's house became his 
castle. Taxes were readily paid, the tax gatherers 
were honest servants, and, none of the revenue going 
to keep fat pashas in luxury in Constantinople, there 
came a prospect of expenditure and revenue balancing 
after much money had been usefully spent on local 
government. Until the signing of peace interna- 
tional law provided that Turkish laws should apply. 
These, properly administered, as they never were by 
the Turks, gave a basis of good government, and, 
with the old abuses connected with the collection of 
revenue removed, and certain increased taxation and 
customs dues imposed by the Turks during the war 
discontinued, the people resumed the arts of peace 
and enjoyed a degree of prosperity none of them had 
ever anticipated. What the future government of 
Palestine may be is uncertain at the time of writing. 
There is talk of international control — we seem ever 
ready to lose at the conference table what a vaUant 
sword has gained for us — ^but the careful and per- 
fectly correct administration of General Allenby will 
save us from the criticism of many jealous foreigners. 
Certainly it will bear examination by any impartial 
investigator, but the best of all tributes that could 
be paid to it is that it satisfied religious communities 
which did not live in perfect harmony with one 
another and the inhabitants of a country which 
shelters the people of many different races. 

The Yilderim undertaking, as the Bagdad scheme 
was described, did not meet with the full acceptance 
of the Turks. The ' mighty Jemal,' as the Germans 
sneeringly called the Commander of the Syrian Army, 


opposed it as weakening his prospects, and even Enver, 
the ambitious creature and tool of Germany, post- 
poned his approval. It would seem the taking over of 
the command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force 
by General Allenby set the Turks thinking, and made 
the German Military Mission in Constanthiople 
reconsider their plans, not with a view to a complete 
abandonment of the proposal to advance on Bagdad, 
as would have been wise, but in order to see how few 
of the Yilderim troops they could allot to Jemal's 
army to make safe the Sinai front. There was an 
all-important meeting of Turkish Generals in the 
latter half of August, and Jemal stood to his guns. 
Von Falkenhayn could not get him to abate one item 
of his demands, and there can be no doubt that 
Falkenhayn, obsessed though he was with the im- 
portance of getting Bagdad, could see that Jemal 
was right. He admitted that the Yilderim opera- 
tion was only practicable if it had freedom for retire- 
ment through the removal of the danger on the 
Palestine front. With that end in view he advocated 
that the British should be attacked, and suggested 
that two divisions and the ' Asia Corps ' should be 
sent from Aleppo to move round our right. Jemal 
was in favour of defensive action ; Enver pro- 
crastinated and proposed sending one division to 
strengthen the IVth Army on the Gaza front and to 
proceed with the Bagdad preparations. The wait- 
and-see policy prevailed, but long before we exerted 
our full strength Bagdad was out of the danger zone. 
General Allenby' s force was so disposed that any 
suggestion of the Yilderim operation being put into 
execution was ruled out of consideration. 

Several documents captured at Yilderim head- 
quarters at Nazareth in September 1918, when 
General Allenby made his big drive through Syria, 


show very clearly how our Palestine operations 
changed the whole of the German plans, and reading 
between the lines one can realise how the impatience 
of the Germans was increasing Turkish stubbornness 
and creating friction and ill-feeling. The German 
military character brooks no opposition ; the Turks 
like to postpone till to-morrow what should be done 
to-day. The latter were cocksure after their two 
successes at Gaza they could hold us up ; the Ger- 
mans believed that with an offensive against us they 
would hold us in check till the wet season arrived.^ 

Down to the south the Turks had to bring their 
divisions. Their line of communications was very 
bad. There was a railway from Aleppo through 
Rayak to Damascus, and onwards through Deraa 
(on the Hedjaz line) to Afule, Messudieh, Tul Keram, 
Ramleh, Junction Station to Beit Hanun, on the 
Gaza sector, and through Et Tineh to Beersheba. 
Rolling stock was short and fuel was scarce, and the 
enemy had short rations. When we advanced 
through Syria in the autumn of 1918 our transport 
was nobly served by motor-lorry columns which 
performed marvels in getting up supplies over the 
worst of roads. But as we went ahead we, having 
command of the sea, landed stores all the way up 
the coast, and unless the Navy had lent its helping 
hand we should never have got to Aleppo before the 
Turk cried ' Enough.' Every ounce of the Turks' 
supphes had to be hauled over land. They managed 
to put ten infantry divisions and one cavalry division 
against us in the first three weeks, but they were not 
comparable in strength to our seven infantry divisions 
and three cavalry divisions. In rifle strength we 
outnumbered them by two to one, but if the enemy 
bad been well led and properly rationed he, being 

* See Appendices i„ ii., and m. 


on the defensive and having strong prepared posi- 
tions, should have had the power to resist us more 
strongly. The Turkish divisions we attacked were : 
3rd, 7th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 26th, 27th, 53rd, 
and 54th, and the 3rd Cavalry Division. The latter 
avoided battle, but all the infantry divisions had 
heavy casualties. That the moral of the Turkish 
Army was not high may be gathered from a very 
illuminatmg letter written by General Kress von 
Kressenstein, the G.O.C. of the Sinai front, to Yilderim 
headquarters on September 29, 1917.^ 

The troops who won Palestine and made it happier 
than it had been for four centuries were exclusively 
soldiers of the British Empire. There was a French 
detachment and an Italian detachment with General 
Allenby's Army. The Italians for a short period held 
a small portion of the line in the Gaza sector, but did 
not advance with our force ; the French detachment 
were solely employed as garrison troops. The French 
battleship Requin and two French destroyers co- 
operated with the ships of the Royal Navy in the 
bombardment of the coast. Our Army was truly 
representative of the Empire, and the units com- 
posing it gave an abiding example that in unity rested 
our strength. From over the Seven Seas the 
Empire's sons came to illustrate the mianimity of 
all the King's subjects in the prosecution of the 
war. English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh divisions 
of good men and true fought side by side with 
soldiers of varying Indian races and castes. Aus- 
tralia's valiant sons constituted many brigades of 
horse and, with New Zealand mounted regiments, 
became the most hardened campaigners in the 
Egyptian and Palestine theatre of operations. Their 
powerful support in the day of anxiety and trial, as 

1 See Appendix iv. 


well as in the time of triumph, will be remembered 
with gratitude. South Africa contributed good 
gunners; our dark-skinned brethren in the West 
Indies furnished infantry who, when the fierce 
summer heat made the air in the Jordan Valley like 
a draught from a furnace, had a bayonet charge 
which aroused an Anzac brigade to enthusiasm (and 
Colonial free men can estimate bravery at its true 
value). From far-away Hong Kong and Singapore 
came mountain gunners equal to any in the world, 
Kroomen sent from their homes in West Africa surf 
boatmen to land stores, Raratongas from the Southern 
Pacific vied with them in boat craft and beat them 
in physique, while Egypt contributed a labour corps 
and transport corps running a long way into six 
figures. The communion of the representatives of 
the Mother and Daughter nations on the stern field 
of war brought together people with the same ideals, 
and if there are any minor jealousies between them 
the brotherhood of arms will make the soldiers 
returning to their homes in all quarters of the globe 
the best of missionaries to spread the Imperial idea. 
Instead of wrecking the British Empire the German- 
made war should rebuild it on the soundest of f oimda- 
tions, affection, mutual trust, and common interest. 



General Allenby's first problem was of vital 
consequence. He had to pierce the Gaza line. 
Before his arrival there had been, as already stated, 
two attempts which failed. A third failure, or even 
a check, might have spelt disaster for us in the East. 
Tlie Turks held commanding positions, which they 
strengthened and fortified under the direction of 
German engineers until their country, between the 
sea and Beersheba, became a chain of land works of 
high military value, well adapted for defence, and 
covering almost every hne of approach. The Turk 
at the Dardanelles had shoAvn no loss of that quality 
of doggedness in defence which characterised him 
in Plevna, and though we know his commanders 
still cherished the hope of successfully attacking us 
before we could attempt to crush his hne, it was on 
his system of defence that the enemy mainly relied 
to break the power of the British force. On arriving 
in Egypt General Allenby was given an appreciation 
of the situation written by Lieut.-General Sir Philip 
Chetwode, who had commanded the Desert Column 
in various stages across the sands of Sinai, was 
responsible for forcing the Turks to evacuate El 
Arish, arranged the dash on Magdaba by General 
Sir Harry ChauveFs mounted troops, and fought 
the briUiant little battle of Rafa. This appreciation 
of the position was the work of a master military 
mind, taking a broad comprehensive view of the 



whole military situation in the East, Palestine's 
position in the world war, the strategical and tactical 
problems to be faced, and, without making any 
exorbitant demands for troops which would lessen 
the Allies' powers in other theatres, set out the 
minimum necessities for the Palestine force. General 
AUenby gave the fullest consideration to this docu- 
ment, and after he had made as complete an examina- 
tion of the front as any Commander-in-Chief ever 
undertook — the General was in one or other sector 
with his troops almost every day for four months — 
General Chetwode's plan was adopted, and full credit 
was given to his prescience in General AUenby' s 
despatch covering the operations up to the fall of 

It was General Chetwode's view at the time of 
writing his appreciation, that both the British and 
Turkish Armies were strategically on the defensive. 
The forces were nearly equal in numbers, though we 
were slightly superior in artillery, but we had no 
advantage sufficient to enable us to attack a well- 
entrenched enemy who only offered us a flank on 
which we could not operate owing to lack of water 
and the extreme difficulty of supply. General Chet- 
wode thought it was possible the enemy might make 
an offensive against us — we have since learned he 
had such designs — but he gave weighty reasons 
against the Turk embarking upon a campaign con- 
ducted with a view to throwing us beyond the 
Eg3rptian frontier into the desert again. If the 
enemy contemplated even minor operations in the 
Sinai Desert he had not the means of undertaking 
them. We should be retiring on positions we had 
prepared, for, during his advance across the desert, 
General Chetwode had always taken the precaution 
of having his force dug in against the unlikely event 


of a Turkish attack. Every step we went back would 
make oui* supply easier, and there was no water 
difficulty, the pipe Hue, then 130 miles long, which 
carried the purified waters of the Nile to the amount 
of hundreds of thousands of gallons daily, being 
always available for our troops. It would be necessary 
for the Tiu"ks to repair the Beersheba-Auja railway. 
They had lifted some of the rails for use north of Gaza, 
and a raid we had carried out showed that we could 
stop this railway being put into a state of preparedness 
for mihtary traffic. An attack which aimed at again 
threateiung the Suez Canal was therefore ruled as 
outside the range of possibilities. 

On the other hand, now that the Russian collapse 
had relieved the Turk of his anxieties in the Caucasus 
and permitted him to concentrate his attention on 
the Mesopotamian and Palestine fronts, what hope 
had he of resisting our attack when we should be in 
a position to launch it ? The enemy had a single 
narrow-gauge railway hne connecting with the 
Jaffa- Jerusalem railway at Junction Station about 
six miles south-east of Ramleh. This line ran to 
Beersheba, and there was a spur line running past 
Deir Sineid to Beit Hanun from which the Gaza 
position was supphed. There was a shortage of 
rolling stock and, there being no coal for the engines, 
whole olive orchards had been hacked down to provide 
fuel. The Hebron road, which could keep Beersheba 
supplied if the railway was cut, was in good order, 
but in other parts there were no roads at all, except 
several miles of badly metalled track from Junction 
Station to Juhs. We could not keep many troops 
with such ill-conditioned communications, but Turk- 
ish soldiers require far less supplies than European 
troops, and the enemy had done such remarkable 
things in surmounting supply difficulties that he 


was given credit for being able to support between 
sixty and seventy battalions in the line and reserve, 
with an artillery somewhat weaker than our own. 

If we made another frontal attack at Gaza we 
should find ourselves up against a desperately strong 
defensive system, but even supposing we got through 
it we should come to another halt in a few miles, 
as the enemy had selected, and in most cases had 
prepared, a number of positions right up to the Jaffa- 
Jerusalem road, where he would be in a land of com- 
parative plenty, with his supply and transport 
troubles very considerably reduced. No one could 
doubt that the Turks intended to defend Jerusalem 
to the last, not only because of the moral effect its 
capture would have on the peoples of the world, but 
because its possession by us would threaten their 
enterprise in the Hedjaz, and the enormous amount 
of work we afterwards found they had done on the 
Judean hills proved that they were determined to 
do all in their power to prevent our driving them from 
the Holy City. The enemy, too, imagined that our 
progress could not exceed the rate at which our 
standard gauge railway could be built. Water-borne 
supplies were limited as to quantity, and during the 
winter the landing of supplies on an open beach was 
hazardous. In the coastal belt there were no roads, 
and the wide fringe of sand which has accumulated 
for centuries and still encroaches on the Maritime 
Plain can only be crossed by camels. Wells are few 
and yield but small volumes of water. With the 
transport allotted to the force in the middle of 1917 it 
was not possible to maintain more than one infantry 
division at a distance of twenty to twenty- five miles 
beyond railhead, and this could only be done by 
allotting to them all the camels and wheels of other 
divisions and rendering these immobile. This was in- 


sufficient to keep the enemy on the move after a tactical 
success, and he would have ample time to reorganise. 

General Chetwode held that careful preliminary 
arrangements, suitable and clastic organisation of 
transport, the collection of material at railhead, the 
training of platelaying gangs provided by the troops, 
the utilisation of the earthwork of the enemy's line 
for our own railway, luck as regards the weather and 
the fullest use of sea transport, should enable us to 
give the enemy less breathing time than appeared 
possible on paper. It w^as beyond hope, however, 
whatever preparations were made, that we should be 
able to piursue at a speed approaching that which 
the river made possible in Mesopotamia. General 
Chetwode considered it would be fatal to attempt an 
offensive with forces which might permit us to attack 
and occupy the enemy's Gaza line but which would 
be insufficient to inffict upon him a really severe blow, 
and to follow up that blow with sufficient troops. 
No less than seven infantry divisions at full strength 
and three cavalry divisions would be adequate for 
the purpose, and they would be none too many. 
Further, if the Turks began to press severely in 
Mesopotamia, or even to revive their campaign in 
the Hedjaz, a premature offensive might be necessi- 
tated on our part in Palestine. 

The suggestion made by General Chetwode for 
General Allenby's consideration was that the enemy 
should be led to believe we intended to attack him 
in front of Gaza, and that we should pin him dowTi to 
his defences in the centre, while the real attack should 
begin on Beersheba and continue at Hareira and 
Sheria, and so force the enemy by manoeuvre to 
abandon Gaza. That plan General Allenby adopted 
after seeing all the ground, and the events of the last 
day of October and the first week of November 


supported General Chetwode's predictions to the 
letter. Indeed it would be hard to find a parallel 
in history for such another complete and absolute 
justification of a plan drawn up several months 
previously, and it is doubtful if, supposing the Turks 
had succeeded in doing what their German advisers 
advocated, namely forestalling our blow by a vigorous 
attack on our positions, there would have been any 
material alteration in the working out of the scheme. 
The staff work of General Headquarters and of the 
staffs of the three corps proved whoUy sound. Each 
department gave of its best, and from the moment 
when Beersheba was taken in a day and we secured 
its water supply, there was never a doubt that the 
enemy could be kept on the move until we got into 
the rough rocky hills about Jerusalem. And by 
that time, as events proved, his moral had had such 
a tremendous shaking that he never again made the 
most of his many opportunities. 

The soundness of the plan can quite easily be made 
apparent to the unmihtary eye. Yet the Turk was 
absolutely deceived as to General Allenby's inten- 
tions. If it be conceded that to deceive the enemy 
is one of the greatest accomplishments in the soldier's 
art, it must be admitted that the battle of Gaza 
showed General Allenby's consummate generalship, 
just as it was proved again, and perhaps to an even 
greater extent, in the wonderful days of September 
1918, in Northern Palestine and Syria. A glance at 
the map of the Gaza- Beersheba line and the country 
immediately behind it will show that if a successful 
attack were delivered against Gaza the enemy could 
withdraw his whole line to a second and supporting 
position where we should have to begin afresh upon an 
almost similar operation. The Turk would stiU have 
his water and would be slightly nearer his supplies. 


Since the two unsuccessful attacks in March and 
April, Gaza had been put into a powerful state of 
defence. The houses of the to^\^l are mostly on a 
ridge, and enclosing the place is a mass of gardens 
fully a mile deep, each surrounded by high cactus 
hedges affording complete cover and quite impossible 
for infantry to penetrate. To reduce Gaza would 
require a prolonged artillery bombardment with far 
more batteries than General Allenby could ever expect 
to have at his command, and it is certain that not 
only would the line in front of the town have had to 
be taken, but also the whole of the western end of 
the Turks' trench system for a length of at least 
12,000 yards. And, as has been said, with Gaza 
secured we should still have had to face the enemy 
in a new line of positions about the wadi Hesi. Gaza 
was the Turks' strongest point. To attack here 
would have meant a long-drawn-out artillery duel, 
infantry would have had to advance over open ground 
under complete observation, and, while making a 
frontal attack, would have been exposed to enfilade 
fire from the ' Tank ' system of works to the south- 
east. It would have proved a costly operation, its 
success could only have been partial in that it did not 
follow that we should break the enemy's line, and it 
would not have enabled us to contain the remainder 
of the Turkish force. 

Nor would an attack on the centre have promised 
more favourably. Here the enemy had all the best 
of the ground. At Atawineh, Sausage Ridge, Hareira, 
and Teiaha there were defences supporting each 
other on high ground overlooking an almost flat plain 
through which the wadi Ghuzze runs. All the ob- 
servation was in enemy possession, and to attack 
over this ground would have been inviting disaster. 
There was Uttle fear that the Turks would attack us 


across this wide range of No Man's Land, for we 
held secure control of the curiously shaped heaps of 
broken earth about Shellal, and the conical hill at Fara 
gave an uninterrupted view for several miles north- 
ward and eastward. The position was very different 
about Beersheba. If we secured that place with its 
water supply, and in this dry country the battle 
really amounted to a fight for water, we should be 
attacking from high ground and against positions 
which had not been prepared on so formidable a scale 
as elsewhere, with the prospect of compelling the 
enemy to abandon the remainder of the line for fear of 
being enveloped by mounted troops moving behind 
his weakened left. That, in brief outline, was the 
gist of General Chetwode's report, and with its full 
acceptance began the preparations for the advance. 
These preparations took several months to complete, 
and they were as thorough as the energy of a capable 
staff could make them. 



Those of us who were fortunate enough to witness 
the nature of the preparations for the first of General 
Allenby's great and triumphant moves in Palestine 
can speak of the debt Britain and her Allies owe not 
merely to the Commander-in-Chief and his Head- 
quarters Staff, but to the three Corps Commanders, 
the Divisional Commanders, the Brigadiers, and the 
officers responsible for transport, artillery, engineer, 
and the other services. The Army had to be put 
on an altogether different footing from that which 
had twice failed to drive the Turks from Gaza. It 
serves nothing to ignore the fact that the moral of 
the troops was not high in the weeks following the 
second failure. They had to be tuned up and trained 
for a big task. They knew the Turk was turning 
his natural advantages of ground about Gaza into a 
veritable fortress, and that if their next effort was to 
meet with more success than their last, they had to 
learn all that experience on the Western Front had 
taught as to systems of trench warfare. 

And, more than that, they had to prepare to apply 
the art of open warfare to the full extent of their 

A couple of months before General Allenby took 
over command. General Chetwode had taken in hand 
the question of training, and in employing the know- 
ledge gained during the strenuous days he had spent 
in France and Flanders, he not only won the con- 


fidence of the troops but improved their tone, and 
by degrees brought them up to something approach- 
ing the level of the best fighting divisions of our Army 
in France. 

This was hard work during hot weather when our 
trench systems on a wide front had to be prepared 
against an active enemy, and men could ill be spared 
for the all-important task of training behind the front 
line. It was not long, however, before troops who 
had got into that state of lassitude which is engendered 
by a behef that they were settling down to trench 
warfare for the duration of the war — that, in fact, 
there was a stalemate on this front — ^became inspired 
by the energy of General Chetwode. They saw him 
in the front hne almost every day, facing the risks 
they ran themselves, complimenting them on any 
good piece of work, suggesting improvements in their 
defences, always anxious to provide anything possible 
for their comfort, and generally looking after the 
rank and file with a detailed attention which no good 
battahon commander could exceed. 

The men knew that the long visits General Chet- 
wode paid them formed but a small part of his daily 
task. It has been said that a G.O.C. of a force has 
to think one hour a day about operations and five 
hours about beef. In East Force, as this part of 
the Egyptian Expeditionary Force was then called. 
General Chetwode, having to look months ahead, 
had also six worrying hours a day to think about 
water. For any one who did not love his profession, 
or who had not an ardent soldierly spirit within him, 
such a daily task would have been impossible. I 
had the privilege of living in General Chetwode' s 
camp for some time, and I have seen him working 
at four o'clock in the morning and at nine o'clock 
at night, and the notes on a writing tablet by the 


side of his rough camp-bed showed that in the hours 
when sleep forsook him he was planning the next day's 

His staff was entirely composed of hard workers, 
and perhaps no command in this war ever had so 
small a staff, but there was no officer in East Force 
who laboured so long or with such concentration 
and energy and determination as its Chief. This 
enthusiasm was infectious and spread through all 
ranks. The sick rate declined, septic sores, from 
which many men suffered through rough life in the 
desert on Army rations, got better, and the men 
showed more interest in their work and were keener 
on their sport. The full effects had not been wholly 
realised when the War Cabinet selected General 
Allenby for the control of the big operations, but 
the improvement in the condition of the troops was 
already most marked, and when General Allenby 
arrived and at once directed that General Head- 
quarters should be moved from Cairo, which was 
pleasant but very far away from the front, to Kelab, 
near Khan Yunus, there was not a man who did not 
see in the new order of things a sign that he was to 
be given a chance of testing the Briton's supremacy 
over the Turk. 

The improvement in the moral of the troops, the 
foundations of which were thus begun and cemented 
by General Chetwode, was rapidly carried on under the 
new Chief. Divisions like the 52nd, 53rd, and 54th, 
which had worked right across the desert from the 
Suez Canal, toihng in a torrid temperature, when 
parched throats, sun-blistered limbs, and septic sores 
were a heavy trial, weakened by casualties in action 
and sickness, were brought up to something like 
strength. Reinforcing drafts joined a lot of cheery 
veterans. They were taught in the stern field of 


experience what was expected of them, and they 
worked themselves up to the degree of efficiency of 
the older men. 

The 74th Division, made up of yeomanry regiments 
which had been doing excellent service in the Libyan 
Desert, watching for and harassing the elements of 
the Senussi Army, had to be trained as infantry. 
These yeomen did not take long to make themselves 
first-rate infantry, and when, after the German 
attack on the Somme in March 1918, they went 
away from us to strengthen the Western Front, a 
distinguished General told me he believed that man 
for man the 74th would prove the finest division in 
France. They certainly proved themselves in Pales- 
tine, and many an old yeomanry regiment won for 
itself the right to bear ' Jerusalem, 1917 ' on its 

The 75th Division had brought some of the Wessex 
Territorials from India with two battalions of Gurkhas 
and two of Rifles. The l/4th Duke of Cornwall's 
Light Infantry joined it from Aden, but for some 
months the battalion was not itself. It had spent 
a long time at that dreary sunburnt outpost of the 
Empire, and the men did not regain their physical 
fitness till close upon the time it was required for the 
Gaza operations. 

The 60th Division came over from Salonika and 
we were delighted to have them, for they not only 
gave us General Bulfin as the XXIst Corps Commander, 
but set an example of efficiency and a combination 
of dash and doggedness which earned for them a 
record worthy of the best in the history of the great 
war. These London Territorials were second-line 
men, men recruited from volunteers in the early days 
of the war, when the Coimty of London Territorial 
battahons went across to France to take a part on a 


front hard pressed by German legions. The 60th 
Division men had rushed forward to do their duty 
before the Derby scheme or conscription sought 
out the cream of Britain's manhood, and no one had 
any misgivings about that fine cheery crowd. 

Tlie 10th Division hkewise came from Salonika. 
Unfortunately it had been doing duty in a fever- 
stricken area and malaria had weakened its ranks. 
A httle while before the autumn operations began, 
as many as 3000 of its men were down at one time 
with malaria, but care and tonic of the battle pulled 
the ranks together, and the Irish Division, a purely 
Irish division, campaigned up to the glorious tradi- 
tions of their race. They worked like gluttons with 
rifle and spade, and their pioneer work on roads in 
the Judean hills will always be remembered with 

The cavalry of the Desert Mounted Corps were 
old campaigners in the East. The Anzac Mounted 
Division, composed of six regiments of Australian 
Light Horse and three regiments of New Zealand 
Mounted Rifles, had been operating in the Sinai 
Desert when they were not winning fame on Galhpoli, 
since the early days of the war. They had proved 
sterling soldiers in the desert war, hard, full of courage, 
capable of making light of the longest trek in water- 
less stretches of country, and mobile to a degree the 
Turks never dreamed of. There were six other 
regiments of Australian Light Horse and three first- 
line regiments of yeomanry in the Australian Mounted 
Division, and nine yeomanry regiments in the 
Yeomanry Mounted Division. Tlie 7th Mounted 
Brigade was attached to Desert Corps, as was also 
the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, formed of yeomen 
and Austrahans who had volunteered from their regi- 
ments for work as camelry. They, too, were veterans. 


All these divisions had to be trained hard. Not 
only had the four infantry divisions of XXth Corps 
to be brought to a pitch of physical fitness to enable 
them to endure a considerable period of open fighting, 
but they had to be trained in water abstinence, as, 
in the event of success, they would unquestionably 
have long marches in a country yielding a quite in- 
adequate supply of drinking water, and this problem 
in itself was such that fully 6000 camels were required 
to carry drinking water to infantry alone. Water- 
abstinence training lasted three weeks, and the 
maximum of half a gallon a man for all purposes 
was not exceeded, simply because the men had been 
made accustomed to deny themselves drink except 
when absolutely necessary. But for a systematic 
training they would have suffered a great deal. The 
disposition of the force is given in the Appendix.^ 

^ See Appendix v. 



To ease the supply problem a spur line was laid 
from Rafa to Sliellal, on the wadi Ghuzze. In that 
way supplies, stores, and ammunition were taken up 
to our right flank. Shellal was a position of great 
strategic importance. At one time it appeared as 
if we should have to fight hard to gain it. The Turks 
had cut an elaborate series of trenches on Wali 
Sheikh Nuran, a hill covering Shellal, but they 
evacuated this position before we made the first 
attack on Gaza, and left an invaluable water supply 
in our hands. 

At Shellal the stony bed of the wadi Ghuzze rests 
between high mud banks which have been cut into 
fantastic shapes by the rushing waters descending 
from the southern extremities of the Judean range 
of hills during the winter rains. In the summer 
months, when the remainder of the wadi bed is dry, 
there are bubbling springs of good water at Shellal, 
and these have probably been continuously flowing 
for many centuries, for close above the spot where the 
water issues Anzac cavalry discovered a beautiful 
remnant of the mosaic flooring of an ancient Christian 
church, which, raised on a hundred-feet mound, was 
doubtless the centre of a colony of Christians, hun- 
dreds of years before Crusaders were attracted to the 
Holy Land. Our engineers harnessed that precious 
flow. A dam was put across the wadi bed and at 
least a miUion gallons of crystal water were held up 



by it, whilst the overflow went into shallow pools 
fringed with grass (a dehghtfully refreshing sight in 
that arid country) from which horses were watered. 
Pumping sets were installed at the reservoir and 
pipes were laid towards Karm, and from these the 
Camel Transport Corps were to fill fanatis — eight to 
twelve gallon tanks — for carriage of water to troops 
on the move. 

The railway staff, the department which arranged 
the making up and running of trains, as well as the 
construction staff, had heavy responsibihties. It was 
recognised early in 1917 that if we were to crush the 
Tm-k out of the war, provision would have to be 
made for a larger army than a single line from the 
Suez Canal could feed. It was decided to double 
the track. The difficulties of the Director of Railway 
Transport were enormous. There was great shortage 
of railway material all over the world. Some very 
valuable cargoes were lost through enemy action at 
sea, and we had to call for more from different centres, 
and England deprived herself of ro llin g stock she 
badly needed, to enable her flag of freedom to be 
carried (though it was not to be hoisted) through the 
Holy Land. And incidentally I may remark that, with 
the sohtary exception of a dirty Uttle piece of Red 
Ensign I saw flying in the native quarter in Jerusalem, 
the only British flag the people saw in Palestine and 
Syria was a miniature Union Jack carried on the Com- 
mander-in-Chief's motor car and by his standard- 
bearer when riding. Thus did the British Army play 
the game, for some of the AUied susceptibiHties might 
have been wounded if the people had been told 
(though indeed they knew it) that they were under 
the protection of the British flag. They had the 
most convincing evidence, however, that they were 
under the staunch protection of the British Army. 


Tlie doubling of the railway track went on apace. 
To save pressure at the Alexandria docks and on 
the Egyptian State railway, which, giving some of its 
rolling stock and, I think, the whole of its reserve of 
material for the use of the military line east of the 
Canal, was worked to its utmost capacity, and also 
to economise money by saving railway freights, 
wharves w^ere built on the Canal at Kantara, and as 
many as six ocean-going steamers could be unloaded 
there at one time. By and by a railway bridge was 
thrown over the Canal, and when the war was over 
through trains could be run from Cairo to Jerusalem 
and Haifa. Kantara grew into a w^onderful town 
with several miles of Canal frontage, huge railway 
sidmgs and workshops, enormous stores of rations 
for man and horse, medical supplies, ordnance and 
ammunition dumps, etc. Probably the enemy knew 
all about this vast base. Any one on any ship passing 
through the Canal could see the place, and it is sur- 
prising, and it certainly points to a lack of enterprise 
on the part of the Germans, that no attempt was 
made to bomb Kantara by the super- Zeppelin which 
in November 1917 left its Balkan base and got as 
far south as the region of Khartoum on its way to 
East Africa, before being recalled by wireless. This 
same Zeppelin was seen about forty miles from Port 
Said and a visit by it was anticipated. Aeroplanes 
with experienced pilots and armed with the latest 
anti- Zeppelin devices were stationed at Port Said and 
Aboukir ready to ascend on any moonlight night 
when the hum of aerial motor machinery could be 
heard. The super- Zeppehn never came and Kantara's 
progress was unchecked. 

The doubled railway track was laid as far as 
El Arish by the time operations commenced, and this 
was a great aid to the railway staff. Every engine 


and truck was used to its fullest capacity, and an 
enormous amount of time was saved by the abolition 
of passing stations for some ninety miles of the line's 
length. Railhead was at Deir el Belah, about eight 
miles short of Gaza, and here troops and an army of 
Egyptian labourers were working night and day, 
week in week out, off-loading trucks with a speed that 
enabled the maximum amount of service to be got 
out of rolling stock. There were large depots down 
the line too. At Rafa there was a big store of am- 
munition, and at Shellal large quantities not only of 
supplies but of railway material were piled up in readi- 
ness for pushing out railhead immediately the advance 
began. A Decauville, or light, line ran out towards 
Gamli from Shellal to make the supply system easier, 
and I remember seeing some Indian pioneers lay about 
three miles of light railway with astonishing rapidity 
the day after we took Beersheba. Every mile the hne 
advanced meant time saved in getting up supplies, 
and the radius of action of lorries, horse, and camel 
transport was considerably increased. 

To supply the Gaza front we called in aid a small 
system of light railways. From the railhead at Deir 
el Belah to the mouth of the wadi Ghuzze, and from 
that point along the line of the wadi to various places 
behind the line held by us, we had a total length of 
21 kilometres of light railway. Before this railway 
got into full operation horses had begun to lose con- 
dition, and during the summer ammunition-column 
officers became very anxious about their horses. The 
light railway was almost everywhere within range 
of the enemy's guns, and in some places it was un- 
avoidably exposed, particularly where it ran on the 
banks of the wadi due south of Gaza. I recollect 
while the track was being laid speaking to an Aus- 
tralian in charge of a gang of natives preparing an 



earthwork, and asked why it was that a trench was 
dug before earth was piled up. He pointed to the 
hill of Ali Muntar, the most prominent feature in 
the enemy's system, and said that from the Turks' 
observation post on that eminence every movement 
of the labourers could be seen, and the men were 
often forced by gunfire to the refuge of the trenches. 

When the railway was in running order trains had 
to run the gauntlet of shell-fire on this section on 
bright moonlight nights, and no camouflage could 
hide them. But they worked through in a marvel- 
lously orderly and efficient fashion, and on one day 
when our guns were hungry this little line carried 
850 tons of ammunition to the batteries. The horses 
became fit and strong and were ready for the war to 
be carried into open country. In christening their 
tiny puffing locomotives the Tommy drivers showed 
their strong appreciation of their comrades on the sea, 
and the ' Iron Duke ' and ' Lion ' were always tuned 
up to haul a maximum load. But the pride of the 
engine yard was the ' Jerusalem Cuckoo ' — some pro- 
phetic eye must have seen its future employment 
on the light line between Jerusalem and Ramallah 
— though in popularity it was run close by the 
'Bulfin-ch,' a play upon the name of the Com- 
mander of the XXIst Corps, for which it did sterUng 

The Navy formed part of the picture as well. Some 
small steamers of 1000 to 1500 tons burden came up 
from Port Said to a little cove north of Belah to 
lighten the railway's task. They anchored about 
150 yards off shore and a crowd of boats passed 
backwards and forwards with stores. These were 
carried up the beach to trucks on a line connected 
with the supply depots, and if you wished to see a 
busy scene where slackers had no place the Belah 


beach gave it you. The Army tried all sorts of boat- 
men and labourers. There were Kroo boys who found 
the Mediterranean waters a comparative calm after 
the turbulent surf on their own West African shore. 
The Maltese were not a success. The Egyptians 
were, both here and almost everywhere else where 
their services were called for. The best of all the 
fellows on this beach, however, were the Raratongas 
from the Cook Islands, the islands from which the 
Maoris originally came. They were first employed 
at El Arish, where they made it a point of honour to 
get a job done well and quickly, and, on a given day, 
it was found that thirty of them had done as much 
labourers' work as 170 British soldiers. They were 
men of fine physical strength and endurance, and 
some one who knew they had the instincts of sports- 
men, devised a simple plan to get the best out of them. 
He presented a small flag to be won each day by the 
crew accomplishing the best work with the boats. 
The result was amazing. Every minute the boats 
were afloat the Raratongas strained their muscles to 
win the day's competition, and when the day's task 
was ended the victorious crew marched with their flag 
to their camp, singing a weird song and as proud as 
champions. Some Raratongas worked at ammuni- 
tion dumps, and it was the boast of most of them that 
they could carry four 60-pounder shells at a time. A 
few of these stalwart men from Southern Seas re- 
ceived a promotion which made them the most envied 
men of their race — they became loading numbers in 
heavy howitzer batteries, fighting side by side with 
the Motherland gunners. 

However well the Navy and all associated with it 
worked, only a very small proportion of the Army's 
suppUes was water borne. The great bulk had to be 
carried by rail. Enormously long trains, most of 


them hauled by London and South- Western loco- 
motives, bore munitions, food for men and animals, 
water, equipment, medical comforts, guns, wagons, 
caterpillar tractors, motor cars, and other parapher- 
naha required for the largest army which had ever 
operated about the town of Gaza in the thousands 
of years of its history. The main line had thrown out 
from it great tentacles embracing in their iron clasp 
vital centres for the supply of our front, and over 
these spur lines the trains ran with the regularity of 
British main-line expresses. Besides 96,000 actual 
fighting men, there was a vast army of men behind 
the line, and there were over 100,000 animals to be 
fed. There were 46,000 horses, 40,000 camels, 15,000 
mules, and 3500 donkeys on Army work east of the 
Canal, and not a man or beast went short of rations. 
We used to think Kitchener's advance on Khartoum 
the perfection of military organisation. Beside the 
Palestine expedition that Soudan campaign fades 
into insignificance. In fighting men and labour 
corps, in animals and the machinery of war, this Army 
was vastly larger and more important, and the method 
by which it was brought to Palestine and was supplied, 
and the low sick rate, constitute a tribute to the master 
minds of the organisers. The Army had fresh meat, 
bread, and vegetables in a country which under the 
lash of war yielded nothing, but which under our rule 
in peace will furnish three times the produce of the 
best of past years of plenty. 

A not inconsiderable portion of the front line was 
supphed with Nile water taken from a canal nearly 
two hundred miles away. But the Army once at the 
front depended less upon the waters of that Father 
of R-ivers than it had to do in the long trek across the 
desert. Then all drinking water came from the Nile. 
It flowed down the sweet-water canal (if one may be 


pardoned for calling ' sweet ' a volume of water so 
charged with vegetable matter and bacteria that it 
was harmful for white men even to wash in it), was 
filtered and siphoned under the Suez Canal at Kan- 
tara, where it was chlorinated, and passed through a 
big pipe line and pumped through in stages into 
Palestine. The engineers set about improving all 
local resources over a wide stretch of country which 
used to be regarded as waterless in summer. Many- 
water levels were tapped, and there was a fair yield. 
The engineers' greatest task in moving with the Army 
during the advance was always the provision of a 
water supply, and in developing it they conferred on 
the natives a boon which should make them be re- 
membered with gratitude for many generations. 

In the months preceding our attack Royal En- 
gineers were also concerned in improving the means 
of communication between railway depots and the 
front line. Before our arrival in this part of Southern 
Palestine, wheeled traffic was almost unknown among 
the natives. There was not one metalled roadway, 
and only comparatively light loads could be trans- 
ported in wheeled vehicles. The soil between Khan 
Yunus and Deir el Belah, especially on the west of 
our railway line, was very sandy, and after the winter 
rains had knitted it together it began to crumble 
imder the sun's heat, and it soon cut up badly when 
two or three limbers had passed over it. The sandy 
earth was also a great nuisance in the region between 
Khan Yunus and Shellal, but between Deir el Belah 
and our Gaza front, excepting on the belt near the sea 
which was composed of hillocks of sand precisely 
similar to the Sinai Desert, the earth was firmer 
and yielded less to the grinding action of wheels. 
For ordinary heavy military traffic the engineers 
made good going by taking off about one foot of the 


top soil and banking it on either side of the road. 
These tracks lasted very well, but they required 
constant attention. Ambuhmces and light motor 
cars had special arrangements made for them. Hun- 
dreds of miles of wire netting were laid on sand in all 
directions, and these wire roads, which, stretching 
across bright golden sand, appeared like black bands 
to observers in aircraft, at first aroused much curi- 
osity among enemy airmen, and it was not until they 
had made out an ambulance convoy on the move that 
they reahsed the purpose of the tracks. 

The rabbit wire roads were a remarkable success. 
Motor wheels held firmly to the surface, and when 
the roads w^ere in good condition cars could travel 
at high speed. Three or four widths of wire netting 
were laced together, laid on the sand and pegged 
down. After a time loose pockets of sand could not 
resist the weight of wheels and there became many 
holes beneath the wire, and the jolting was a sore trial 
ahke to springs and to a passenger's temper. But here 
again constant attention kept the roads in order, and 
if one could not describe travelling over them as easy 
and comfortable they were at least sure, and one 
could be certain of getting to a destination at an 
average speed of twelve miles an hour. In sand 
the Ford cars have performed wonderful feats, but 
remarkable as was the record of that cheap American 
car with us — it helped us very considerably to win 
the war — you could never tell within hours how long 
a journey would take off the wire roads. Once leave 
the netting and you might with good luck and a 
skilful driver get across the sand without much 
trouble, but it often meant much bottom-gear w^ork 
and a hot engine, and not infrequently the digging 
out of wheels. The drivers used to try to keep to 
the tracks made by other cars. These were never 


straight, and the swing from side to side reminded 
you of your first ride on a camel's back. The wire 
roads were a great help to us, and the officer who 
first thought out the idea received our daily blessings. 
I do not know who he was, but I was told the wire 
road scheme was the outcome of a device suggested 
by a medical officer at Romani in 1916, when infantry 
could not march much more than six miles a day 
through the sand. This officer made a sort of wire 
moccasin which he attached to the boot and doubled 
the marching powers of the soldier. A sample of 
those moccasins should fuid a place in our War 



About the middle of August it was the intention that 
the attack on the Turks' front hne in Southern 
Palestine should be launched some time in September. 
General Allenby knew his force would not be then 
at full strength, but what was happening at other 
points in the Turkish theatres of operations might 
make it necessary to strike an early blow at Gaza to 
spoil enemy plans elsewhere. However, it was soon 
seen that a September advance was not absolutely 
necessary. General Allenby decided that instead of 
making an early attack it would be far more profitable 
to wait until his Army had been improved by a longer 
period of training, and until he had got his artillery, 
particularly some of his heavy batteries, into a high 
state of efficiency. He would risk having to take 
Jerusalem after bad weather had set in rather than 
be unable, owing to the condition of his troops, to 
exploit an initial success to the fullest extent. How 
wholly justified was this decision the subsequent 
fighting proved, and it is doubtful if there was ever 
a more complete illustration of the wisdom of those 
directing war policy at home submitting to the cool, 
balanced calculations of the man on the spot. The 
extra six weeks spent in training and preparation 
were of incalculable service to the Alhes. I have 
heard it said that a September victory in Palestine 
would have had its reflex on the Itahan front, and 
that the Caporetto disaster would not have assumed 



the gigantic proportions which necessitated the with- 
drawal to Italy of British and French divisions from 
the Western Front and prevented Cambrai being a 
big victory. That is very doubtful. On the contrary, 
a September battle in Palestine before we were fully 
ready to follow the Turks after breaking and rolling 
up their line, even if we had succeeded in doing this 
completely, might have deprived us of the moral 
effect of the capture of Jerusalem and of the wonderful 
influence which that victory had on the whole civilised 
world by reason of the sacrifices the Commander-in- 
Chief made to prevent any fighting at all in the pre- 
cincts of the Holy City. Of this I shaU speak later, 
giving the fullest details at my command, for there 
is no page in the story of British arms which better 
upholds the honour and chivalry of the soldier than the 
preservation of the Holy Place from the clash of battle. 
That last six weeks of preparation were unforget- 
table. The London newspapers I had the honour to 
represent as War Correspondent knew operations 
were about to begin, but I did not cable or mail them 
one word which would give an indication that big 
things were afoot. They never asked for news, but 
were content to wait till they could tell the public 
that victory was ours. In accordance with their 
practice throughout the w^ar the London Press set 
an example to the world by refraining from pub- 
lishing anything which would give information of 
the slightest value to the enemy. It was a privilege 
to see that victory in the making. Some divisions 
which had allotted to them the hardest part of the 
attack on Beersheba were drawn out of the line, and 
forming up in big camps between Belah and SheUal 
set about a course of training such as athletes undergo. 
They had long marches in the sand carrying packs 
and equipment. They were put on a short allowance 


of water, except for washing purposes. They dug, 
they had bombing practice, and with all this extra 
exercise while the days were still very hot they 
needed no encouragement to continue their games. 
Football was their favourite sport, and the British 
Tommy is such a remarkable fellow that it was usual 
to see him trudge home to camp looking ' fed up ' 
with exercise, and then, after throwing off his pack 
and tunic, run out to kick a ball. The Italian and 
French detachments used to look at him in astonish- 
ment, and doubtless they thought his enthusiasm for 
sport was a sore trial. He got thoroughly fit for 
marches over sand, over stony ground, over shifting 
shingle. During the period of concentration he had 
to cross a district desperately bad for marching, and it 
is more than probable the enemy never beheved him 
capable of such endurance. He was often tired, 
no doubt, but he always got to his destination, was 
rarely footsore, and laughed at the worst parts of 
his journey. The sand was choking, the flies were an 
irritating pest, equipment became painfully heavy ; 
but a big, brave heart carried Tommy through 
his training to a state of perfect condition for the 
heavy test. 

To enable about two-thirds of the force to carry 
on a moving battle while the remainder kept half 
the enemy pinned down to his trench system on his 
right-centre and right, it was necessary to reinforce 
strongly the transport service for our mobile columns. 
The XXIst Corps gave up most of its lorries, tractors, 
and camels to XXth Corps. These had to be moved 
across from the Gaza sector to our right as secretly 
as possible, and they were not brought up to load 
at the supply depots at Shellal and about Karm 
until the moment they were required to carry 
supplies for the corps moving to attack. 


It is not easy to convey to any one who has not 
seen an army on the move what a vast amount 
of transport is required to provision two corps. 
In France, where roads are numerous and in com- 
paratively good condition, the supply problem could 
be worked out to a nicety, but in a roadless country 
where there was not a sound half-mile of track, and 
where water had to be developed and every gallon 
was precious, the question of supply needed most 
anxious consideration, and a big margin had to be 
allowed for contingencies. It will give some idea of 
the requirements when I state that for the supply of 
water alone the XXth Corps had allotted to it 6000 
camels and 73 lorries. To feed these water camels 
alone needed a big convoy. 

We got an impression of the might and majesty of 
an army in the field as we saw it preparing to take 
the offensive. The camp of General Headquarters 
where I was located was situated north of Rafa. 
The railway ran on two sides of the camping ground, 
one line going to Belah and the other stretching out 
to Shellal, where everything was in readiness to extend 
the iron road to the north-east of Karm, on the plain 
which, because the Turks enjoyed complete observa- 
tion over it, had hitherto been No Man's Land. We 
saw and heard the traffic on this section of the line. 
It was enormous. Heavily laden trains ran night and 
day with a mass of stores and suppHes, with motor 
lorries, cars, and tractors ; and the ever-increasing 
volume of traffic told those of us who knew nothing 
of the date of ' Zero day ' that it was not far ofi. 
The heaviest trains seemed to run at night, and the 
returning empty trains were hurried forward at a 
speed suggesting the urgency of clearing the hne for 
a fully loaded train awaiting at Rafa the signal to 
proceed with its valuable load to railhead. Perfect 


control not only on the railway system but in the 
forward supply yards prevented congestion, and 
when a train arrived at its destination and was split 
up into several parts, w ell-drilled gangs of troops and 
Egyptian labourers were allotted to each truck, and 
whether a lorry or a tractor had to be unshipped and 
moved down a ramp, or a truck had to be reheved of 
its ten tons of tibbin, boxes of biscuit and bully, or 
of engineers' stores, the goods were cleared away 
from the vicinity of the Une with a celerity which a 
goods-yard foreman at home would have applauded 
as the smartest work he had ever seen. There was 
no room for slackers in the Army, and the value of 
each truck was so high that it could not be left 
standmg idle for an hour. The organisation was 
equally good at Kantara, where the loading and 
making up of trains had to be arranged precisely as 
the needs at the front demanded. Those remarkable 
haulers, the caterpillar tractors, cut many a passage 
through the sand, tugging heavy guns and ammuni- 
tion, stores for the air and signal services, machinery 
for engineers and mobile workshops, and sometimes 
towing a weighty load of petrol to satisfy their 
voracious appetites for that fuel. The tractors did 
well. Sand was no trouble to them, and when mud 
marooned lorries during the advance in November 
the rattling, rumbling old tractor made fair weather 
of it. The mechanical transport trains will not forget 
the service of the tractors on the morning after Beer- 
sheba was taken. From railhead to the spot where 
Father Abraham and his people fed their flocks the 
country was bare and the earth's crust had yielded 
all its strength under the influence of the summer sun. 
Loaded lorries under their own power could not move 
more than a few yards before they were several inches 
deep in the sandy soil, but a Motor Transport "officer 



devised a plan for beating down a track which all 
lorries could use. He got a tractor to haul six un- 
laden lorries, and with all the vehicles using their 
own power the tractor managed to pull them through 
to Beersheba, leaving behind some wheel tracks with 
a hard foundation. A hundred lorries followed, the 
drivers steering them in the ruts, and they made such 
good progress that by the afternoon they had de- 
posited between 200 and 300 tons of supplies in Beer- 
sheba. The path the tractor cut did not last very 
long, but it was sound enough for the immediate and 
pressing requirements of the Army. 

Within a month of his arrival in Egjrpt, General 
Allenby had visited the whole of his front line and 
had decided the form his offensive should take. As 
soon as his force had been made up to seven infantry 
divisions and the Desert Mounted Corps, and they 
had been brought up to strength and trained, he would 
attack, making his main offensive against the enemy's 
left flank while conducting operations vigorously and 
on an extensive scale against the Turkish right-centre 
and right. The principal operation against the left 
was to be conducted by General Chetwode's XXth 
Corps, consisting of four infantry divisions and the 
Imperial Camel Brigade, and by General Chauvel's 
Desert Mounted Corps. General Bulfin's XXIst 
Corps was to operate against Gaza and the Turkish 
right-centre south-east of that ancient town. If the 
situation became such as to make it necessary to take 
the offensive before the force had been brought up 
to strength, the XXIst Corps would have had to 
undertake its task with only two divisions, but in 
those circumstances its operations were to be limited 
to demonstrations and raids. By throwing forward 
his right, the XXIst Corps Commander was to pin 
the enemy down in the Atawineh district, and on the 


left he would move against the south-western defences 
of Gaza so as to lead the Tui'ks to suppose an attack 
was to come in this sector. That movement being 
made, the XXth Corps and Desert Mounted Corps 
were to advance against Beersheba, and, having taken 
it, to secure the valuable water supply which was 
known to have existed there since Abraham dug the 
well of the oath which gave its name to the town. 
Because of water difficulties it was considered vital 
that Beersheba should be captured in one day, a 
formidable undertaking owing to the situation of 
the town, the high entrenched hills around it and 
the long marches for cavalry and infantry before the 
attack ; and in drawing up the scheme based on the 
Commander-in-Chief's plan, the commanders of XXth 
Corps and Desert Mounted Corps had always to work 
on the assumption that Beersheba would be in their 
hands by nightfall of the first day of the attack. 
General Barrow's Yeomanry Mounted Division was 
to remain at Shellal in the gap between XXth Corps 
and XXIst Corps in case the enemy should attempt 
to attack the XXth Corps' left flank. Having dealt 
with the enemy in Beersheba, General Chetwode with 
mounted troops protecting his right was to move 
north and north-west against the enemy's left flank, 
to drive him from his strong positions at Sheria and 
Hareira, enveloping his left flank and striking it 

While the XXth Corps was moving against this sec- 
tion of the enemy line. Desert Mounted Corps was to 
bring up the mounted division left at Shellal, and 
passing behind the XXth Corps to march on Nejile, 
where there was an excellent water supply, and the 
wadi Hesi, so as to threaten the left rear and the line 
of retreat of the Turkish Army. 

It was always doubtful whether XXth Corps would 


be able to close up the gap between it and the XXIst 
Corps owmg to the length of its marches and the 
distance it was from railhead, and the scheme 
tlierefore provided that the XXIst Corps should 
confirm successes gained on our right by forcing its 
way through the tremendously strong Gaza position 
to the line of the wadi Hesi and joining up with 
Desert Mounted Corps. A considerable number of 
XXth Corps troops would then return to the neigh- 
bourhood of railliead and release the greater part of 
its transport for the infantry of XXIst Corps moving 
up the Maritime Plain. 

This, in summary form, was the scheme General 
Allenby planned before the middle of August, and 
though the details were not, and could not be, worked 
out until a couple of months had passed, it is note- 
worthy as showing that, notwithstanding the moves 
an enterprising enemy had at his command in a 
country where positions were entirely favourable 
to him, where he had water near at hand, where the 
transport of supplies was never so serious a problem 
for him as for us when we got on the move, and where 
he could make us fight almost every step of the way, 
the Commander-in-Chief foresaw and provided for 
every eventuaHty, and his scheme worked out abso- 
lutely and entirely ' according to plan,' to use the 
favourite phrase of the German High Command. 

When the Corps Commanders began working out 
the details two of the greatest problems were trans- 
port and water. Only patience and skiHul develop- 
ment of known sources of supply would surmount 
the water difficulty, and we had to wait till the period 
of concentration before commencing its solution. 
But to lighten the transport load which must have 
weighed heavily on Corps Staffs, the Commander-in- 
Chief agreed to allow the extension of the railway 


east of Shellal to be begun sooner than he had pro- 
vided for. It was imperative that railway con- 
struction should not give the enemy an indication 
of our intentions. If he had realised the nature and 
scope of our preparations he would have done some- 
thing to counteract them and to deny us that element 
of surprise which exerted so great an influence on the 
course of the battle. General Allenby, however, was 
wilhng to take some risks to simphfy supply diffi- 
culties, and he ordered that the extension to a railway 
station north-east of Karm should be completed by 
the evening of the third day before the attack, that 
a Decauville line from GamU, not to be begun before 
the sixth day prior to the attack, was to be completed 
to Karm by the day preceding the opening of the 
fighting at Beersheba, and that a new Decauville 
line should be started at Karm when fighting had 
begun, and should be carried nearly three miles in 
the Beersheba direction early on the following 
morning. These new lines, though of short length, 
were an inestimable boon to the conductors of supply 
trains. The new railheads both of the standard gauge 
and light lines were well placed, and they not only 
saved time and shortened the journeys of camel 
convoys and lorry transport columns, but prevented 
congestion at depots in one central spot. 

A big effort was made to escape detection by enemy 
aircraft. For the first time since the Eg3rptian Ex- 
peditionary Force took the field we had obtained 
mastery in the air. On the 8th and 15th October 
two enemy planes were shot down behind our lines, 
and the keenness of our airmen for combat made the 
German aviators extremely careful. They had been 
bold and resolute, taking their observations several 
thousand feet higher than our pilots, it is true, but 
neither anti-aircraft fire nor the presence of our 


machines in the air had up to this time deterred them. 
However, just at the moment when air work was of 
extreme importance to the Turks, the German flying 
men, recognising that our pilots had new battle planes 
and were full of resource and daring, showed an un- 
usual lack of enterprise, and we profited from their 
inactivity. The concentration of the force in the 
positions from which it was to attack Beersheba was 
to have taken seven days, but owing to the difficulties 
attending the development of water at Asluj and 
Khalasa the time was extended to ten days. During 
this period the uppermost thought of commanders 
was to conceal their movements. All marching was 
done at night and no move of any kind was permitted 
till nearly six o'clock in the evening, when enemy 
aircraft were usually at rest and the light was suffi- 
ciently dull to prevent the Fritzes seeing much if 
they had made an exceptionally late excursion. All 
the tents and temporary shelters which had been 
occupied for weeks were left standing. Cookhouses, 
horse hnes, canteens, and so on were untouched, and 
one had an eerie feeling in passing at night through 
these untenanted camping groimds, deserted and 
lifeless, and a prey to the jackal and pariah dog. A 
vast area of many square miles which had held tens 
of thousands of troops and animals almost became 
a wilderness again, and the few natives hereabouts 
who had made large profits from the sale of eggs, fruit, 
and vegetables looked disconsolate and bewildered 
at the change, hoping and believing that the empty 
tents merely denoted a temporary absence. But the 
great majority of the Arniy never came that way 

When the infantry started on the march, divisions 
and brigades had allotted to them particular areas 
for their march routes, and all over that country. 


where scarcely a tree or native hut existed to make a 
landmark, there were dotted small arrow-pointed 
boards with the direction ' A road,' ' B road,' ' Z road,' 
as the case might be. Marching in the dark hours 
when a refreshing air succeeded the heat of the day, 
the troops halted as soon as a purple flush threw into 
high relief the southern end of the Judean hills, and 
they hid themselves in the wadis and broken ground ; 
and on one unit vacating a bivouac area it was occupied 
by another, thus making the areas in which the troops 
rested as few as possible. 

The concentration was worked to a time-table. 
Not only were brigades allotted certain marches each 
night, but they were given specified times to cover 
certain distances, and these were arranged according 
to the condition of the gromid. In parts it was very 
broken and covered with loose stones, and the pace 
of uifantry by night was very slightly more than one 
mile per hour. The routes for guns were not chosen 
mitil the whole comitry had been recomioitred, and 
it was a highly creditable performance for artillery 
to get their field guns and heavy howitzer batteries 
through to the time-table. But the clockwork pre- 
cision of the movements reflected even more highly 
on the staff working out the details than on the in- 
fantry and artillery, and it may be said with perfect 
truth that the staff made no miscalculation or mistake. 
The XXth Corps staff maps and plans, and the 
details accompanying them, were masterpieces of 
clearness and completeness. The men who fought 
out the plans to a triumphant finish were glad to 
recognise this perfection of staff work.^ 

^ See Appendix vi. 



The XXth Corps began its movement on the night 
of 20-21st October. The whole Corps was not on the 
march, but a sufficient force was sent forward to form 
supply dumps and to store water at Esani for troops 
covering Desert Mounted Corps engineers engaged 
on the development of water at Khalasa and Asluj. 
Some of the AustraUan and New Zealand troops en- 
gaged on this work had previously been at these places. 
In the early summer it was thought desirable to 
destroy the Turkish railway which ran from Beer- 
sheba to Asluj and on to Kossaima, in order to pre- 
vent an enemy raid on our communications between 
El Arish and Rafa, and the mounted troops with the 
Imperial Camel Corps had had a most successful day 
in destroying many miles of hne and several bridges. 
The Turks were badly in need of rails for the line they 
were then constructing down to Deir Sineid, and they 
had hfted some of the rails between Asluj and Kos- 
saima, but during our raid we broke every rail over 
some fifteen miles of track. Khalasa and Asluj being 
water centres became the points of concentration 
for two mounted divisions, and the splendid Colonials 
in the engineer sections worked at the wells as if the 
success of the whole enterprise depended upon their 
efforts, as, indeed, to a very large extent it did. 
Theirs was not an eight hours day. They worked 
under many difficulties, often thigh deep in water and 
mud, cleaning out and deepening wells and installing 



power pumps, putting up large canvas tanks for 
storage, and making water troughs. The results 
exceeded anticipations, and the Commander-in-Chief, 
on a day when the calls on his time were many and 
urgent, made a long journey to thank the officers and 
men for the work they had done and to express his 
high appreciation of their skill and energy. 

The principal work carried out by the XXth Corps 
during the period of concentration consisted in laying 
the standard gauge line to I mar a and opening the 
station at that place on October 28 ; prolonging the 
railway Une to a point three-quarters of a mile north- 
north-east of Karm, where the station was opened 
on November 3 ; completing by October 30 the light 
railway from the east bank of the wadi Ghuzze at 
GamU via Karm to Khasif ; and developing water at 
Esani, Malaga, and Abu Ghalyun for the use first by 
cavalry detachments and then by the 60th Division. 
Cisterns in the Khasif and Imsiri area were stocked 
with 60,000 gallons of water to be used by the 53rd 
and 74th Divisions, and this supply was to be sup- 
plemented by camel convoys. Apparently the enemy 
knew very Uttle about the concentration until about 
October 26, and even then he could have had only 
sUght knowledge of the extent of our movements, 
and probably knew nothing at all of where the first 
blow was to fall. In the early hours of October 27 
he did make an attempt to interfere with our con- 
centration, and there was a spirited little action on 
our outpost line which had been pushed out beyond 
the plain to a line of low hills near the wadi Hanafish. 
The Turks in overwhelming force met a most stubborn 
defence by the Middlesex Yeomanry, and if the enemy 
took these London yeomen as an average sample of 
General Allenby's troops, this engagement must have 
given them a foretaste of what was in store for them. 


The Middlesex Yeomanry (the 1st County of 
London Yeomanry, to give the regiment the name by 
which it is officially known, though the men almost 
invariably use the much older Territorial title) and 
the 21st Machine Gun Squadron, held the long ridge 
from El Buggar to hill 630. There was a squadron 
dismounted on hill 630, three troops on hill 720, the 
next and highest point on the ridge, and a post at 
El Buggar. At four o'clock in the morning the latter 
post was fired on by a Turkish cavalry patrol, and an 
hour later it was evident that the enemy intended to 
try to drive us off the ridge, his occupation of which 
would have given him the power to harass railway 
construction parties by sheU-fire, even if it did not 
entirely stop the work. Some 3000 Turkish infantry, 
1200 cavalry, and twelve guns had advanced from the 
Kauwukah system of defences to attack our outpost 
line on the ridge. They heavily engaged hill 630, 
working round both flanks, and brought heavy 
machine-gun and artillery fke to bear on the squadron 
holding it. The Royal Flying Corps estimated that 
a force of 2000 men attacked the garrison, which was 
completely cut off. 

A squadron of the City of London Yeomanry sent 
to reinforce was held up by a machine-gun barrage 
and had to withdraw. The garrison held out magni- 
ficently all day in a support trench close behind the 
crest against odds of twenty to one, and repeatedly 
beat off rushes, although the bodies of dead Turks 
showed that they got as close as forty yards from the 
defenders. Two officers were wounded, and four 
other ranks killed and twelve wounded. 

The attack on hill 720 was made by 1200 cavalry 
supported by a heavy volume of shell and machine- 
gun fire. During the early morning two desperate 
charges were beaten off, but in a third charge the 


enemy gained possession of the hill after the detach- 
ment had held out for six hours. All our officers 
were killed or wounded and all the men were casual- 
ties except three. At six o'clock in the evening the 
Turks were holding this position in strength against 
the 3rd Australian Light Horse, but two infantry 
brigades of the 53rd Division were moving towards 
the ridge, and during the evening the enemy retired 
and we held the ridge from this time on quite securely. 
The strong defence of the Middlesex Yeomanry un- 
doubtedly prevented the Turks estabhshing them- 
selves on the ridge, and saved the infantry from having 
to make a night attack which might have been costly. 
Thereafter the enemy made no attempt to interfere 
with the concentration. The yeomanry losses in 
this encounter were 1 officer and 23 other ranks 
killed, 5 officers and 48 other ranks wounded, 2 
officers and 8 other ranks missing. 

On the night of October 30-31 a brilliant moon 
lit up the whole country. The day had been very 
hot, and at sunset an entire absence of wind promised 
that the night march of nearly 40,000 troops of all 
arms would be attended by all the discomforts of 
dust and heat. The thermometer fell, but there was 
not a breath of wind to shift the pall of dust which 
hung above the long columns of horse, foot, and guns. 
Where the tracks were sandy some brigades often 
appeared to be advancing through one of London's 
own particular fogs. Men's faces became caked with 
yellow dust, their nostrils were hot and burning, and 
parched throats could not be relieved because of the 
necessity of conserving the water allowance. A hot 
day was in prospect on the morrow, and the fear of 
having to fight on an empty water-bottle prevented 
many a gallant fellow broaching his supply before 
daybreak. Most of the men had had a long acquaint- 


(Note the Crusader Lion in Wall) 










ance with heat in the Middle East, and the high 
temperature would have caused them scarcely any 
trouble if there had been wind to carry away the dust 
clouds. The cavalry marched over harder and more 
stony ground than the infantry. They advanced from 
Klialasa and Asluj a long way south of Beersheba to 
the east of the town. It was a big night march of 
some thirty miles, but it was well within the powers 
of the veterans of the Anzac Mounted Division and 
Australian Mounted Division, whose men and horses 
were in admirable condition. 

The infantry were ordered to be on their line of 
deployment by four o'clock on the morning of October 
31, and in every case they were before time. There 
had been many reconnaissances by officers vvho were 
to act as guides to columns, and they were quite 
familiar with the ground ; and the guns and ammuni- 
tion columns were taken by routes which had been 
carefully selected and marked. In places the banks 
of wadis had been cut into and ramps made to enable 
the rough stony watercourses to be practicable for 
wheels, and, broken as the country was, and though 
all previous preparations had to be made without 
arousing the suspicions of Turks and wandering 
Bedouins, there was no incident to check the progress 
of infantry or guns. Occasional rifle fire and some 
shelling occurred during the early hours, but at a 
Httle after three a.m. the XXth Corps advanced head- 
quarters had the news that all columns had reached 
their allotted positions. 

The XXth Corps plan was to attack the enemy's 
works between the Khalasa road and the wadi Saba 
with the 60th and 74th Divisions, while the defences 
north of the wadi Saba were to be masked by the 
Imperial Camel Corps Brigade and two battalions of 
the 53rd Division, the remainder of the latter divi- 


sion protecting the left flank of the Corps from any 
attack by enemy troops wlio might move south from 
the Sheria area. The lirst objective was a hill marked 
on the map as ' 1070,' about 6000 yards south-west 
of Beersheba. It was a prominent feature, 500 yards 
or perhaps a little more from a portion of the enemy's 
main line, and the Turks held it strongly and were 
supported by a section of German machine-gimners. 
We had to win this height in order to get good ob- 
servation of the enemy's main line of works, and to 
allow of the advance of field artillery within wire- 
cutting range of an elaborate system of works pro- 
tecting Beersheba from an advance from the west. At 
six the guns began to bombard 1070, and the volume 
of fire concentrated on that spot must have given the 
Turks a big surprise. On a front of 4500 yards we 
had in action seventy-six 18-pounders, twenty 4-5- 
inch howitzers, and four 3 •7-inch howitzers, while 
eight 60-pounders, eight 6-inch howitzers, and four 
4*5-inch howitzers were employed in counter battery 
work. The absence of wind placed us at a heavy 
disadvantage. The high explosive shells bursting 
about the crest of 1070 raised enormous clouds of 
dust which obscured everything, and after a short 
while even the flames of exploding shells were en- 
tirely hidden from view. The gunners had to stop 
firing for three-quarters of an hour to allow the dust 
to settle. They then reopened, and by half-past 
eight, the wire-cutting being reported completed, an 
intense bombardment was ordered, under cover of 
which, and with the assistance of machine-gun fire 
from aeroplanes, the 181st Infantry Brigade of the 
60th Division went forward to the assault. They 
captured the hill in ten minutes, only sustaining about 
one hundred casualties, and taking nearly as many 
prisoners. A German machine-gunner who fell into 


our hands bemoaned the fact that he had not a weapon 
left — every one of the machine guns had been knocked 
out by the artillery, and a number were buried by 
our fire. 

The first phase of the operations having thus ended 
successfully quite early in the day, the second stage 
was entered upon. Field guns were rushed forward 
at the gallop over ground broken by shallow wadis 
and up and down a very uneven stony surface. The 
gun teams were generally exposed during the advance 
and were treated to heavy shrapnel ^e, but they 
swung into action at prearranged points and set 
about wire-cutting with excellent effect. The first 
part of the second phase consisted in reducing the 
enemy's main line from the Khalasa road to the wadi 
Saba, though the artillery bombarded the whole line. 
The 60th Division on the right had two brigades 
attacking and one in divisional reserve, and the 74th 
Division attacking on the left of the 60th likewise 
had a brigade in reserve. The 74th, while waiting to 
advance, came under considerable shell-fire from 
batteries on the north of the wadi, and it was some 
time before their fire could be silenced. As a rule 
the enemy works were cut into roclvy, rising ground 
and the trenches were well enclosed in wire fixed to 
iron stanchions. They were strongly made and there 
were possibihties of prolonged opposition, but by the 
time the big assault was launched the Turks knew 
they were being attacked on both sides of Beersheba 
and they must have become anxious about a line of 
retreat. General Shea reported that the wire in front 
of him was cut before noon, but General Girdwood 
was not certain that the wire was sufficiently broken 
on the 74th Division's front, though he intimated to 
the Corps Commander that he was ready to attack 
at the same time as the 60th. It still continued a 


windless day, and the dust clouds prevented any 
observation of the wire entanglements. General 
Girdwood turned this disadvantage to account, and 
ordering his artillery to raise their fire slightly so that 
it should fall just in front of and about the trenches, 
put up what was in effect a dust barrage, and under 
cover of it selected detachments of his infantry ad- 
vanced almost into the bursting shell to cut passages 
through the wire with wire-cutters. The dismounted 
yeomanry of the 231st and 230th Infantry Brigades 
rushed through, and by half -past one the 74 th Divi- 
sion had secured their objectives. The 179th and 
181st Brigades of the 60th Division had won their 
trenches almost an hour earlier, and about 5000 yards 
of works were in our hands south of the wadi Saba. 
The enemy had 3000 yards of trenches north of the 
wadi, and though these were threatened from the 
south and west, it w^as not until five o'clock that the 
230th Brigade occupied them, the Turks clearing 
out during the bombardment. During the day, on 
the left of the 74th Division, the Imperial Camel 
Corps Brigade and two battalions of the 53rd Division 
held the ground to the north of the wadi Saba to a 
point where tho remainder of the 53rd Division 
watched for the approach of any enemy force from 
the north, while the 10th Division about Shellal 
protected the line of communications east of the wadi 
Ghuzze, and the Yeomanry Mounted Division was on 
the west side of the wadi Ghuzze in G.H.Q. reserve. 
The XXth Corps' losses were 7 officers killed and 42 
wounded, 129 other ranks killed, 988 wounded and 
5 missing, a light total considering the nature of the 
works carried during the day. It was obvious that 
the enemy was taken completely by surprise by the 
direction of the attack, and the rapidity with which 
we carried his strongest points was overwhelming. 


The Turk did not attempt anything in the nature of 
a counter-attack by the Beersheba garrison, nor did 
he make any move from Hareira against the 53rd 
Division. Had he done so the 10th Division and the 
Yeomanry Momited Division would have seized the 
opportunity of falling on him from Shellal, and the 
Turk chose the safer course of allowing the Beersheba 
garrison to stand unaided in its own defences. The 
XXtli Corps' captures included 25 officers, 394 other 
ranks, 6 guns, and numerous machine guns. 

The Desert Mounted Corps met with stubborn 
opposition in their operations south-east and east of 
Beersheba, but they were carried through no less suc- 
cessfully than those of the XXth Corps. The mounted 
men had had a busy time. General Ryrie's 2nd 
Australian Light Horse Brigade and the Imperial 
Camel Corps Brigade had moved southwards on 
October 2, and on them and on the 1st and 2nd Field 
Squadrons Austrahan Engineers the bulk of the work 
fell of developing water and making and marking 
tracks which, in the sandy soil, became badly cut up. 
On the evening of October 30 the Anzac Mounted 
Division was at Asluj, the Australian Mounted Divi- 
sion at Khalasa, the 7th Mounted Brigade at Esani, 
Imperial Camel Brigade at Hiseia, and the Yeomanry 
Mounted Division in reserve- at Shellal. The Anzac 
Division commanded by General Chaytor left Asluj 
during the night, and in a march of twenty-four miles 
round the south of Beersheba met with only shght 
opposition on the way to Bir el Hamam and Bir 
Sahm abu Irgeig, between five and seven miles east of 
the town. The 2nd Australian Light Horse Brigade 
during the morning advanced north to take the high 
hill Tel el Sakaty, a httle east of the Beersheba- 
Hebron road, which was captured at one o'clock, and 
the brigade then swept across the metalled road which 


was in quite fair condition, and whicli subsequently ^ 
was of great service to us during the advance of one 
infantry division on Belhlcheni and Jerusalem. The 
1st Australian Light Horse Brigade commanded by 
General Cox, and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles 
Brigade under General Mcldrum, moved against Tel 
el Saba, a 1000-feet hill which rises very precipitously 
on the northern bank of the wadi Saba, 4000 yards 
due east of Beersheba. Tel el Saba is believed to 
be the original site of Beersheba. It had been made 
into a strong redoubt and was well held by a sub- 
stantial garrison adequately dug in and supported 
by nests of machine-gunners. The right bank of the 
wadi Klialil was also strongly held, and between the 
Hebron road and Tel el Saba some German machine- 
gunners in three houses offered determined opposition. 
The New Zealanders and a number of General Cox's 
men crept up the wadi Saba, taking full advantage 
of the cover offered by the high banks, and formed up 
under the hill of Saba. They then dashed up the 
steep sides while the horse artillery lashed the crest 
with their fire, and driving the Turks from their 
trenches had captured the hill by three o'clock. At 
about the same time the 1st Light Horse Brigade 
suitably dealt with the machine-gunners in the houses. 
Much ground east of Beersheba had thus been made 
good, and the Hebron road was denied to the garrison 
of the town as a line of retreat. The Anzac Mounted 
Division was then reinforced by General Wilson's 3rd 
Australian Light Horse Brigade, and by six p.m. the 
Division held a long crescent of hills from Point 970, a 
mile north of Beersheba, through Tel el Sakaty, round 
south-eastwards to Bir el Ha mam. 

General Hodgson's Australian Mounted Division 
had a night march of thirty-four miles from Kiialasa to 
Iswawin, south-east of Beersheba, and after the 3rd 


Light Horse Brigade had been detached to assist the 
Anzac Division, orders were given to General Grant's 
4th Austrahan Light Horse Brigade to attack and 
take the town of Beersheba from the east. The orders 
were received at four o'clock, and until we had got 
an absolute hold on Tel el Saba an attack on the town 
from this direction would have been suicidal, as an 
attacking force would have been between two fires. 
The shelling of the cavalry during the day had been 
rather hot, and enemy airmen had occasionally bombed 
them. It was getting late, and as it was of the greatest 
importance that the town's available water should be 
secured that night, General Grant was directed to 
attack with the utmost vigour. His brigade worthily 
carried out its orders. The ground was very uneven 
and was covered with a mass of large stones and 
shingle. The trenches were well manned and strongly 
held, but General Grant ordered them to be taken at 
the gaUop. The Australians carried them with an 
irresistible charge ; dismounted, cleared the first line 
of all the enemy in it, ran on and captured the second 
and third system of trenches, and then, their horses 
having been brought up, galloped into the town to 
prevent any destruction of the wells. The first-line 
eastern trenches of Beersheba were eight feet deep 
and four feet wide, and as there were many of the 
enemy in them they were a serious obstacle to be 
taken in one rush. This charge was a sterUng feat, 
and unless the town had been occupied that night 
most, if not all, of the cavalry would have had to 
withdraw many miles to water, and subsequent opera- 
tions might have been imperilled. Until we had got 
Beersheba there appeared small prospect of watering 
more than two brigades in this area. 

Luckily there had been two thunderstorms a few 
days before the attack, and we found a few pools of 


sweet water which enabled the whole of the Corps' 
horses to be watered during the night. These pools 
soon dried up and the w ater problem again became 
serious. The Commander-in-Chief rewarded General 
Grant with the D.S.O. as an appreciation of his work, 
and the brigade was gratified at a well-earned honour. 
The 7th IMounted Brigade was held up for some time 
hi the afternoon by a flankmg fire from Ras Ghannam, 
south of Beersheba, but this was silenced in time to 
enable the brigade to assist in the occupation of Beer- 
sheba at nightfall. The 4th Light Horse Brigade's cap- 
tures in the charge were 58 officers, 1090 other ranks, 
and 10 field guns, and the total ' bag ' of the Desert 
Mounted Corps was 70 officers and 1458 other ranks. 

The loss of Beersheba was a heavy blow to the 
Turk. Yet he did not even then reahse to the full 
the significance of our capture of the town. He 
certainly failed to appreciate that we were to use it 
as a jumping-off place to attack his main line from 
Gaza to Sheria by rolling it up from left to right. In 
this plan there is no doubt that General Allenby 
entirely deceived his enemy, for in the next few days 
there was the best of evidence to show that General 
Kress von Kressenstein beheved we were going to 
advance from Beersheba to Jerusalem up the Hebron 
road, and he made his dispositions to oppose us here. 
It was not merely the moral effect of the loss of Beer- 
sheba that disturbed the Turks ; they had been 
driven out of a not unimportant stronghold. 

All through the many centuries since Abraham and 
his people led a pastoral hfe near the wells, Beersheba 
had been a meanly appointed place. There were no 
signs as far as I could see of any elaborate ruins to 
indicate anything larger than a native settlement. 
Elsewhere we saw crumbling walls of ancient castles 
and fortresses to tell of conquerors and glories long 


since faded away, ®f relics of an age when great 
captains led martial men into new worlds to conquer, 
of the time when the Crusading spirit was abroad and 
the flower of Western chivalry came East to hold the 
land for Christians. Here the native quarter sug- 
gested that trade in Beersheba was purely local and 
not ambitious, that it provided nothing for the world's 
commerce save a few skins and hides, and that the 
inhabitants were content to live the rude, simple lives 
of their forefathers. But the enterprising German 
arrived, and you could tell by his work how he in- 
tended to compel a change in the unchanging character 
of the peo^jle. He built a handsome Mosque — but 
before he was driven out he wired and mined it for 
destruction. He built a seat of government, a hos- 
pital, and a barracks, all of them pretentious buildings 
for such a town, well designed, constructed of stone 
with red-tiled roofs, and the gardens were nicely laid 
out. There were a railway station and storehouses 
on a scale which would not yield a return on capital 
expenditure for many years, and the water tower and 
engine sheds were built to last longer than merely 
military necessities demanded. They were fashioned 
by European craftsmen, and the sohdity of the 
structures offered strange contrast to the rough- 
and-ready native houses. The primary object of the 
Hun scheme was, doubtless, to make Beersheba a 
suitable base for an attack on the Suez Canal, and 
the manner of improving the Hebron road, of setting 
road engineers to construct zigzags up hills so that 
lorries could move over the road, was part of the plan 
of men whose vision was centred on cutting the Suez 
Canal artery of the British Empire's body. The best 
laid schemes . . . 

When I entered Beersheba our troops held a line 
of outposts sufficiently far north of the town to pre- 


vent the Turks shelling it, and the place was secure 
except from aircraft bombs, of which a number fell 
into the town without damaging anything of much 
consequence. Some of the troops fell victims to 
booby traps. Apparently harmless whisky bottles 
exploded when attempts were made to draw the corks, 
and several small mines went up. Besides the mines 
in the Mosque there was a good deal of wiring about 
the railway station, and some rolling stock was made 
ready for destruction the instant a door was opened. 
The ruse was expected ; some Australian engineers 
drew the charges, and the coaches were afterwards 
of considerable service to the supply branch. 



Meanwhile there were important happenings at 
the other end of the line. Gaza was about to submit 
to the biggest of all her ordeals. She had been a bone 
of contention for thousands of years. The Pharaohs 
coveted her and more than 3500 years ago made 
bloody strife within the environs of the town. Alex- 
ander the Great besieged her, and Persians and Arab- 
ians opposed that mighty general. The Ptolemies 
and the Antiochi for centuries fought for Gaza, whose 
inhabitants had a greater taste for the mart than for 
the sword, and when the Maccabees were carrying a 
victorious war through Philistia, the people of Gaza 
bought off Jonathan, but the Jews occupied the city 
itself about a century before the Christian era. Later 
on the place was captured after a year's siege and 
destroyed, and for long it remained a mass of moulder- 
ing ruins. Pompey revived it, making it a free city, 
and Gabinius extended it close to the harbour, whilst 
under Csesar and Herod its prosperity and fame 
increased. In succeeding centuries Gaza's commerce 
flourished under the Greeks, who founded schools 
famous for rhetoric and philosophy, till the Maho- 
medan wave swept over the land in the first half 
of the seventh century, when the town became a 
shadow of its former self, though it continued to 
exist as a centre for trade. The Crusaders m^^e 
their influence felt, and many are the traces of their 
period in this ancient city, but Askalon always had 



more Crusader support. Napoleon's attack on Gaza 
found Abdallab's army in a very different state of 
preparedness from von Ivress's Turkish army. Nearly 
all Abdallah's artillery was left behind in a gun park 
at Jaffa owing to lack of transport, and though he 
had a numerically superior force he did not like 
Napoleon's dispositions, and retreated when Kleber 
moved up the plain to pass between Gaza and the 
sea, and the cavalry advanced east of the Mound of 
Hebron, or Ali INIuntar, as we know the hill up which 
Samson is reputed to have carried the gates and bar 
of Gaza. For nearly a century and a quarter since 
Napoleon passed forwards and backwards through 
the town, Gaza pursued the arts of peace in the 
lethargic spirit which suits the native temperament, 
but in eight months of 1917 it was the cockpit of 
strife in the Middle East, and there was often crammed 
into one day as much fighting energy as was shown 
in all the battles of the past thirty-five centuries, 
Napoleon's campaign included. 

Fortunately after the battles of March and April 
nearly all the civilian population left the town for 
quieter quarters. Some of them on returning must 
have had difficulty in identifying their homes. In 
the centre of the town, where bazaars radiated from 
the quarter of which the Great Mosque was the hub, 
the houses were a mass of stones and rubble, and the 
narrow streets and tortuous byways were filled with 
fallen walls and roofs. The Great Mosque had 
entirely lost its beauty. We had shelled it because 
its minaret, one of those delicately fashioned spires 
w^hich, seen from a distance, lead a traveller to 
imagine a native to^vn in the East to be arranged on 
an artistic and orderly plan, was used as a Turkish 
observation post, and the Mosque itself as an am- 
munition store. I am told our guns were never laid 


on to this objective until there was an accident within 
it which exploded the ammunition. Be that as it 
may, there was ample justification for shelling the 
Mosque. I went in to examine the structure a few 
hours after the Turks had been compelled to evacuate 
the town, and whilst they were then shelling it with 
unpleasant severity. Amid the wrecked marble 
columns, the broken pulpit, the torn and twisted 
lamps and crumbling walls were hundreds of thou- 
sands of rounds of small-arms ammunition, most of it 
destroyed by explosion. A great shell had cut the 
minaret in half and had left exposed telephone wires 
leading direct to army headquarters and to the 
Turkish gunners' fire control station. Most of the 
Mosque furniture and all the carpets had been re- 
moved, but a few torn copies of the Koran, some of 
them in manuscript with marginal notes, lay mixed 
up with German newspapers and some typical Turkish 
war propaganda literature. That Mosque, which 
Saladin seized from the Crusaders and turned from 
a Christian into a Mahomedan place of worship, was 
unquestionably used for military purposes, and the 
Turks cared as little for its religious character or its 
venerable age as they did for the mosque on Nebi 
Samwil, where the remains of the Prophet Samuel 
are supposed to rest. Their stories of the trouble 
taken to avoid military contact with holy places and 
sites were all bunkum and eyewash. They would 
have fought from the walls of the Holy City and 
placed machine-gun nests in the Church of the Holy 
Sepulchre and the Mosque of Omar if they had 
thought it would spare them the loss of Jerusalem. 

Gaza had, as I have said, been turned into a fortress 
with a mass of field works, in places of considerable 
natural strength. If our force had been on the de- 
fensive at Gaza the Germans would not have attacked 


without an army of at least three times our strength. 
It is doubtful if the Turks put as much material in 
use on Gallipoli as they did here. Their trenches 
were deeply cut and were protected by an immense 
amount of wire. In the sand-dune area they used a 
vast quantity of sandbags, and they met the shortage 
of jute stuffs by making small sacks of bedstead 
hangings and curtains which, in the dry heat of the 
summer, wore very well. Looking across No Man's 
Land one could easily pick out a line of trenches by 
a red, a vivid blue, or a saffron sandbag. The Turkish 
dug-outs were most elaborate places of security. 
The excavators had gone down into the hard earth 
well beneath the deep strata of sand, and they roofed 
these holes with six, eight, and sometimes ten layers 
of palm logs. We had seen these beautiful trees 
disappearing and had guessed the reason. But 
an even greater protection than the devices of 
miHtary engineers had been provided for the Turks 
by Dame Nature. Along the southern outskirts 
of the town all the fields were enclosed by giant 
cactus hedges, sometimes with stems as thick as 
a man's body and not infrequently rearing their 
strong limbs and prickly leaves twenty feet above the 
ground. The hedges w ere deep as well as high. They 
were at once a screen for defending troops and a 
barrier as impenetrable as the w\aUs of a fortress. If 
one Ime of cactus hedges had been cut through, in- 
fantry would have found another and yet another 
to a depth of nearly two miles, and as the whole of 
these thorny enclosures were commanded by a few 
machine guns the possibility of gettmg through was 
almost hopeless. There were similar hedges on the 
eastern and western sides of Gaza, but they were not 
quite so deep as on the south. On the western side, 
and extending south as far as the desert which the 


Army had crossed with such steady, methodical, and 
one may also say painful progression, was a wide belt 
of yellow sand, sometimes settled down hard under 
the weight of heavy winds, and in other places yielding 
to the pressure of feet. The Turks had laboured 
hard in this mile and a half width of sand, right down 
to the sea, to protect their right flank. There was a 
point about 4000 yards due west from the edge of the 
West Town of Gaza which we called Sea Post. It was 
the western extremity of the enemy's exceedingly 
intricate system of defences. The beach was below 
the level of the Post. From Sea Post for about 1500 
yards the Turkish front Hne ran to Rafa Redoubt. 
There were wired-in entrenchments with strong points 
here and there, and a series of communication trenches 
and redoubts behind them for 3000 yards to Sheikh 
Hasan, which was the port of Gaza, if you can so 
describe an open roadstead with no landing facilities. 
From Rafa Redoubt the contour of the sand dunes 
permitted the enemy to construct an exceedingly 
strong line running due south for 2000 yards, the 
strongest points being named by us Zowaid trench. 
El Burj trench, Triangle trench, Peach Orchard, and 
El Arish Redoubt, the nomenclature being reminis- 
cent of the trials of the troops in the desert march. 
Behind this line there was many a sunken passage- 
way and shelter from gunfire, while backing the whole 
system, and, for reasons I have given, an element of 
defence as strong as the prepared positions, were 
cactus hedges enclosing the West Town's gardens. 

From El Arish Redoubt the hne ran east again to 
Mazar trench with a prodigal expenditure of wire in 
front of it, and then south for several hundred yards, 
when it was thrown out to the south-west to embrace 
a position of high importance known as Umbrella 
Hill, a dune of blazing yellow sand facing, about 500 


yards away, Sauison's Ridge, which we held strongly 
and on which the enemy often concentrated his fire. 
This ended the Tui'ks' right-half section of the Gaza 
defences. Close by passed what from time im- 
memorial has been called the Cairo Road, a track 
worn down by caravans of camels moving towards 
Kantara on their way with goods for Egyptian 
bazaars. But there was no break in the trench system 
which ran across the plain, a beautiful green tinted 
with the blooms of myriads of wild flowers when we 
first advanced over it in March, now browned and 
dried up by absolutely cloudless summer days. In 
the gardens on the western slopes of the hills running 
south from Ali Muntar the Turk had achieved much 
spadework, but he had done far more work on the 
hills themselves, and these were a frame of fortifica- 
tions for Ah Mmitar, on which we once sat for a few 
hours, and the possession of which meant the re- 
duction of Gaza. By the end of summer the hill of 
Muntar had lost its shape. When we saw it during 
the first battle of Gaza it was a bold feature sur- 
mounted by a few trees and the whitened walls and 
grey dome of a sheikh's tomb. In the earher battles 
of 1917 much was done to rufile Muntar' s crest. We 
saw trees uprooted, others lose their limbs, and naval 
gunfire threatened the foundations of the old chief's 
burying place. But Ali Muntar stoutly resisted the 
heavy shells' attack. As if Samson's feat had en- 
dowed it with some of the strong man's powers, 
Muntar for a long time received its daily thumps 
stoically ; but by degrees the resistance of the old 
hill declined, and w^hen agents reported that the 
sheikh's tomb w^as used as an observation post, 8-inch 
howitzers got on to it and made it untenable. There 
was a bit of it left at the end, but not more than would 
offer protection from a rifle bullet, and the one tree 


left standing was a limbless trunk. The crest of the 
hill lost its roundness, and the soil which had worked 
out through the shell craters had changed the colour 
of the summit. Old Ali Muntar had had the worst 
of the bombardment, and if some future sheikh should 
choose the site for a summer residence he will come 
across a wealth of metal in digging his foundations. 

To capture Gaza the Formidable it was proposed 
first to take the western defences from Umbrella 
Hill to Sea Post, to press on to Sheikh Hasan and thus 
turn the right flank of the whole position. That 
would compel the enemy to reinforce his right flank 
when he was being heavily attacked elsewhere, and 
if he had been transferring his reserves to meet the 
threat against the left of his main line after Beersheba 
had been won for the Empire he would be in sore 
trouble. Gaza had abeady tasted a full sample of 
the war food we intended it should consume. Before 
the attack on Beersheba had developed, ships of war 
and the heavy guns of XXIst Corps had rattled its 
defences. The warships' fire was chiefly directed 
on targets our land guns could not reach. Observers 
in aircraft controlled the fire and notified the de- 
struction of ammunition dumps at Deir Sineid and 
other places. The work of the heavy batteries was 
watched with much interest. Some were entirely 
new batteries which had never been in action against 
any enemy, and they only arrived on the Gaza front 
five weeks before the battle. These were not allowed 
to register until shortly before the battle began, and 
they borrowed guns from other batteries in order to 
train the gun crews. So desirous was General Bulfin 
to conceal the concentration of heavies that the wire- 
less code calls were only those used by batteries which 
were in position before his Corps was formed, and the 
volume of fire came as an absolute surprise to the 


enemy. It came as a surprise also to some of us in 
cami3 at G.H.Q. one night at the end of October. 
Suddenly there was a terrific burst of fii-e on about 
four miles of front. Vivid fan-shaped flashes stabbed 
the sky, the bright moonlight of the East did not dim 
the guns' lightning, and their thunderous voices were 
a challenge the enemy was powerless to refuse. He 
took it up slowly as if half ashamed of his weakness. 
Then his fire increased in volume and in strength, 
but it ebbed again and we knew the reason. We 
held some big ' stuff ' for comiter battery work, and 
our fire was ejffective. 

The preliminary bombardment began on October 27 
and it grew^ in intensity day by day. The Navy 
co-operated on October 29 and subsequent days. 
The whole line from JVIiddlesex Hill (close to Outpost 
Hill) to the sea was subjected to heavy fire, all the 
routes to the front line were shelled during the night 
by 60-pounder and field-gun batteries. Gas shells 
dosed the centres of communication and bivouac 
areas, and every quarter of the defences was made 
uncomfortable. The sound-ranging sections told us 
the enemy had between sixteen and twenty-four guns 
south of Gaza, and from forty to forty-eight north of 
the town, and over 100 guns were disclosed, including 
more than thirty firing from the Tank Redoubt well 
away to the eastward. On October 29 some of the 
guns south of Gaza had been forced back by the 
severity of our counter battery work, and of the ten 
guns remaining between us and the town on that date 
all except four had been removed by November 2. 
For several nights the bombardment continued 
without a move by infantry. Then just at the 
moment von Kress was discussing the loss of Beer- 
sheba and his plans to meet our further advance in 
that direction, some infantry of the 75th Division 


raided Outpost Hill, the southern extremity of the 
entrenched hill system south of Ali Muntar, and killed 
far more Turks than they took prisoners. There was 
an intense bombardment of the enemy's works at the 
same time. The next night — November 1-2 — ^was 
the opening of XXIst Corps' great attack on Gaza, 
and though the enemy did not leave the town or the 
remainder of the trenches we had not assaulted till 
nearly a week afterwards, the vigour of the attack 
and the bravery with which it was thrust home, and 
the subsequent total failure of counter-attacks, must 
have made the enemy commanders realise on the 
afternoon of November 2 that Gaza was doomed and 
that their boasts that Gaza was impregnable were 
thin air. Their reserves were on the way to their left 
where they were urgently wanted, there was nothing 
strong enough to replace such heavy wastage caused 
to them by the attack of the night of November 1 and 
the morning of the 2nd, and our big gains of ground 
were an enormous advantage to us for the second 
phase in the Gaza sector, for we had bitten deeply into 
the Turks' right flank. 

Like the concentration of the XXth Corps and the 
Desert Mounted Corps for the jump off on to Beer- 
sheba, the preparations against the Turks' extreme 
right had to be very secretly made. The XXIst 
Corps Commander had to look a long way ahead. 
He had to consider the possibiUty of the enemy 
abandoning Gaza when Beersheba was captured, 
and falling back to the line of the wadi Hesi. His 
troops had been confined to trench warfare for months, 
digging and sitting in trenches, putting out wire, 
going out on listening patrols, sniping and doing all 
the drudgery in the hnes of earthworks. They were 
hard and strong, their health having considerably 
improved since the early summer, but at the end of 


September the infantry were by no means march fit. 
Keahsing that, if General Allenby's operations were 
successful, and no one doubted that, we should have 
a period of open warfare when troops would be called 
upon to make long marches and midergo the priva- 
tions entailed by transport difficulties. General Bulfin 
brought as many men as he could spare from the 
trenches back to Deir el Belah and the coast, where 
they had route marches over the sand for the restora- 
tion of their marchuig powers. Gradually he ac- 
cumulated supphes in sheltered positions just behind 
the front. In three dumps were collected seven days' 
mobile rations, ammunition, water, and engineers' 
material. Tracks were constructed, cables buried, 
concealed gun positions and brigade and battalion 
headquarters made, and from the 25th October troops 
were ready to move ofi with two days' rations on the 
man. Should the enemy retire. General Hill's 52nd 
(Lowland) Division was to march up the shore beneath 
the sand cliffs, get across the wadi Hesi at the mouth, 
detach a force to proceed towards Askalon, and then 
move eastward down to the ridge opposite Deir 
Smeid, and, by securing the bridge and crossings of 
the wadi Hesi, prevent the enemy establishing him- 
self on the north bank of the wadi. The operations 
on the night of November 1-2 were conducted by 
Major-General Hare, commanding the 54th Division, 
to which General Leggatt's 156th Infantry Brigade 
was temporarily attached. The latter brigade was 
given the important task of capturmg Umbrella 
Hill and El Arish Redoubt. Umbrella Hill was to 
be taken first, and as it was anticipated the enemy 
would keep up a strong artillery fire for a considerable 
time after the position had been taken, and that his 
fire would interfere with the assembly and advance 
of troops detailed for the second phase, the first 


phase was timed to start four hours earher than 
the second. For several days the guns had opened 
intense fire at midnight and again at 3 a.m. so that 
the enemy should not attach particular importance 
to our artillery activity on the night of action, and a 
creeping barrage nightly swept across No Man's Land 
to clear off the chain of listening posts established 
300 yards in front of the enemy's trenches. Some 
heavy banks of cloud moved across the sky when the 
Scottish Rifle Brigade assembled for the assault, but 
the moon shed sufficient light at intervals to enable 
the Scots to file through the gaps made in our wire 
and to form up on the tapes laid outside. At 11 p.m. 
the 7th Scottish Rifles stormed Umbrella Hill with 
the greatest gallantry. The first wave of some sixty- 
five officers and men was blown up by four large 
contact mines and entirely destroyed. The second 
wave passed over the bodies of their comrades without 
a moment's check and, moving through the wire 
smashed by our artillery, entered Umbrella Hill 
trenches and set about the Turks with their ba.yonets. 
They had to clear a maze of trenches and dug-outs, 
but they bombed out of existence the machine- 
gunners opposing them and had settled the possession 
of Umbrella Hill in half an hour. 

The 4th Royal Scots led the attack on El Arish 
Redoubt. It was a bigger and noisier ' show ' than 
the Royal Scots had had some months before, when 
in a ' silent ' raid they killed with hatchets only, for 
the Scots had seen the condition of some of their dead 
left in Turkish hands and were taking retribution. 
Not many Turks in El Arish Redoubt lived to relate 
that night's story. The Scots were rapidly in the 
redoubt and were rapidly through it, cleared up a 
nasty corner known as the ' Little Devil,' and were 
just about to shelter from the shells which were to 


answer their attack when they caught a brisk fire from 
a Bedouin hut. A phitoon leader disposed his men 
cleverly and rushed the hut, killing everybody in it 
and capturing two machine guns. The vigorous 
resistance of the Turks on Umbrella Hill and El Arish 
Redoubt resulted hi our having to bury over 350 
enemy dead in these positions. 

The second phase was to attack the enemy's front- 
line system from El Aiish Redoubt to the sea at Sea 
Post. At 3 A.M., after the enemy guns had plentifully 
sprinkled Umbrella Hill and had given it up as 
irretrievably lost, we opened a ten-minutes' intense 
bombardment of the front line, exactly as had been 
done on preceding mornings, but this time the 161st 
and 162nd Infantry Brigades followed up our shells 
and carried 3000 yards of trenches at once. Three- 
quarters of an hour afterwards the 163rd Infantry 
Brigade tried to get the support trenches several 
hundred yards in rear, but the difficulties were too 
many and the effort failed. Having secured Sea 
Post and Beach Post the 162nd Brigade completed 
the programme by advancing up the coast and cap- 
turing the ' port ' of Gaza, Sheikh Hasan, with a 
considerable body of prisoners. 

The enemy's guns remained active until seven 
o'clock, when they reserved their fire tiU the afternoon. 
Then a heavy counter-attack was seen to be develop- 
ing by an aerial observer, whose timely warning 
enabled the big guns and warships to smash it up. 
Another counter-attack against Sheikh Hasan was 
repulsed later in the day, and a third starting from 
Crested Rock which aimed at getting back El Burj 
trench was a complete failure. After the second 
phase our troops buried 739 enemy dead. Without 
doubt there were many others killed and wounded 
in the unsuccessful comiter-attacks, particularly the 



first against Sheikli Hasan, when many heavy shells 
were seen to fall in the enemy's ranks. We took 
prisoners 26 officers, including two battalion com- 
manders, and 418 other ranks. Our casualties were 
30 officers and 331 other ranks killed, 94 officers and 
1869 other ranks wounded, and 10 officers and 362 
other ranks missing. Considering the enormous 
strength of the positions attacked, the numbers 
engaged, and the fact that we secured enemy front 
5000 yards long and 3000 yards deep, the losses were 
not more severe than might have been expected. 

The Turks clung to their trenches with a tenacity 
equal to that which characterised their defences on 
Gallipoli, and officer prisoners told us they had been 
ordered to hold Gaza at all costs. That was good 
news, though even if they had got back to the wadi 
Hesi line it is doubtful if, when Sheria was taken, 
they could have done more than temporarily hold us 
up there. During the next few days the work against 
the enemy's right consisted of heavy bombardments 
on the Hne of hills running from the north-east to the 
south of Gaza, and on the prominent position of 
Sheikh Redwan, east of the port. The enemy made 
some spirited replies, notably on the 4th, but his force 
in Gaza was getting shaken, and prisoners reluctantly 
admitted that the heavy naval shells taking them in 
flank and rear were affecting the moral of the troops. 
The gunfire of Rear- Admiral Jackson's fleet of H.M.S. 
Grafton, Raglan, Monitors 15, 29, 31, and 32, river- 
gunboats Ladybird and Amphis, and the destroyers 
Staunch and Comet, was worthy of the King's Navy. 
They were assisted by the French battleship Eequin, 
We lost a monitor and destroyer torpedoed by a 
submarine, but the marks of the Navy's hard hitting 
were on and about Gaza, and we heard, if we could 
not see, the best the ships were doing. On one day 


there was a number of explotsions about Deir Shield 
indicating the destruction of some of the enemy's 
reserve of ammunition, and while the Turks were 
still in Gaza they received a shock resembling nothing 
more than an earthquake. One of the ships — the 
Raglan, I believe — takmg a signal from a seaplane, got 
a direct hit on an ammunition train at Beit Hanun, 
the railway terminus north of Gaza. The whole 
train went up and its load was scattered in fragments 
over an area of several hundred square yards, an 
extraordinary scene of wreckage of torn and twisted 
railway material and destroyed ammunition present- 
ing itself to us when we got on the spot on Novem- 
ber 7. There was another very fine example of 
the Navy's indirect fire a short distance northward 
of this railway station. A stone road bridge had 
been built over the wadi Hesi and it had to carry all 
heavy traffic, the banks of the wadi being too steep 
and broken to permit wheels passing down them as 
they stood. During our advance the engineers had 
to build ramps here. A warship, taking its line from 
an aeroplane, fired at the bridge from a range of 14,000 
yards, got two direct hits on it and holed it in the 
centre, and there must have been thirty or forty 
shell craters within a radius of fifty yards. The 
confounding of the Turks was ably assisted by the 



Now we return to the operations of XXth Corps and 
Desert Mounted Corps on our right. After the 
capture of Beersheba this force was preparing to 
attack the left of the Turkish main hne about Hareira 
and Sheria, the capture of which would enable the 
fine force of cavalry to get to Nejile and gain an 
excellent water supply, to advance to the neighbour- 
hood of Huj and so reach the plain and threaten the 
enemy's line in rear, and to fall on his line of retreat. 
It was proposed to make the attack on the Kauwukah 
and Rushdi systems at Hareira on November 4, but 
the water available at Beersheba had not been equal 
to the demands made upon it and was petering out, 
and mounted troops protecting the right flank of 
XXth Corps had to be reUeved every twenty-four 
hours. The men also suffered a good deal from thirst. 
The weather was unusually hot for this period of the 
year, and the dust churned up by traffic was as 
irritating as when the khamseen wind blew. The 
two days' delay meant much in favour of the enemy, 
who was enabled to move his troops as he desired, 
but it also permitted our infantry to get some rest 
after their long marches, and supplies were brought 
nearer the front. ' Rest ' was only a comparative 
term. Brigades were on the move each day in country 
which was one continual rise and fall, with stony beds 
of wadis to check progress, without a tree to lend a 
few moments' grateful relief from a burning sun, and 


nothing but the rare sight of a squahd native hut to 
reheve the monotony of a sun-dried desolate land. 

The troops were remarkably cheerful. They were 
on their toes, as the cavalry told them. They had 
drawn first blood profusely from the Turk after many 
weary months of waiting and getting fit, and they 
knew that those gaunt mountain ridges away on 
their right front held behind them Bethlehem and 
Jerusalem, goals they desired to reach more than any 
other prizes of war. They had seen the Turk, and 
had soundly thrashed him out of trenches which the 
British could have held against a much stronger 
force. Their confidence was based on the proof that 
they were better men, and they were convinced that 
once they got the enemy into the open their superi- 
ority would be still more marked. The events of the 
next six weeks showed their estimate of the Turkish 
soldier was justified. 

The 53rd Division with the Imperial Camel Corps on 
its right moved to Towal Abu Jerwal on November 1 
to protect the flank guard of the XXth Corps during 
the pending attack on the Kauwukah system. The 
infantry had some fighting on that day, but it was 
mild compared with the strenuous days before them. 
The 10th Division attacked Irgeig railway station 
north-west of Beersheba and secured it, and waited 
there with the 74th Division on its right while the 
Welsh Division went forward to fight for lOiuweilfeh 
on November 3. The Welshmen could not obtain the 
whole of the position on that day, and it was not until 
the 6th that it became theirs. Khuweilfeh is about 
ten miles due east of Sheria, the same distance north 
of Beersheba, and some five miles west of the Hebron 
road. It is in the hill country, difficult to approach, 
with nothing in the nature of a road or track leading 
to it, and there was no element in the position to 


suggest the prospect of an easy capture. When 
General Mott advanced to these forbidding heights 
the strength of the enemy in these parts was not 
reahsed. Prisoners taken during the day proved 
that there were portions of three or four Turkish 
divisions in the neighbourhood, and the strong efforts 
made to prevent the Welsh troops gaining the position 
and the furious attempts to drive them out of it 
suggested that most of the Turkish reserves had been 
brought over to their left flank to guard against a wide 
movement intended to envelop it. It afterwards 
turned out that von Kressenstein believed General 
AUenby intended to march on Jerusalem up the 
Hebron road, and he threw over to his left all his 
reserves to stop us. That was a supreme mistake, for 
when we had broken through at Hstreira and Sheria 
the two wings of his Army were never in contact, and 
their only means of communication was by aeroplane. 

The magnificent fight the 53rd Division put up at 
Khuweilfeh against vastly superior forces and in the 
face of heavy casualties played a very important part 
in the overwhelming defeat of the Turks. For four 
days and nights the Welsh Division fought without 
respite and with the knowledge that they could not 
be substantially reinforced, since the plan for the 
attack on Hareira and Sheria entailed the employ- 
ment of all the available infantry of XXth Corps. 
Attack after attack was launched against them with 
extreme violence and great gallantry, their positions 
were raked by gunfire, whilst water and supplies were 
not over plentiful. But the staunch Division held on 
grimly to what it had gained, and its tenacity was 
well rewarded by what was won on other portions 
of the field. 

During the night of November 5-6 and the day of 
the 6th, the 74th, 60th, and 10th Divisions concen- 


trated for the attack on the Kauwukah system. The 
enemy's positions ran from his Jerusalem-Beersheba 
railway about five miles south-east of Hareira, across 
the Gaza-Beersheba road to the wadi Sheria, on the 
northern bank of which was an exceedingly strong 
redoubt covering Hareira. The eastern portion of 
this line was known as the Kauwukah system, and 
between it and Hareira was the Rushdi system, all 
being connected up by long communication and 
support trenches, while a light railway ran from the 
Rushdi line to dumps south of Sheria. At the 
moment of assembly for attack our line from right 
to left was made up as follows : the 158th Infantry 
Brigade was on the right, south of Tel Khuweilfeh. 
Then came the 160th Brigade and 159th Brigade. 
The Yeomanry Mounted Division held a long line 
of comitry and was the connecting link between the 
53rd and 74th Divisions. The latter division disposed 
from right to left the 231st Brigade, the 229th Brigade, 
and 230th Brigade, who were to march from the south- 
east to the north-west to attack the right of the Kau- 
wukah system of entrenchments on the railway. 
The 181st Brigade, 180th Brigade, and 179th Brigade 
of the 60th Division were to march in the same 
direction to attack the next portion of the system on 
the left of the 74th Division's objectives, then swing- 
ing to the north to march on Sheria. The 31st 
Brigade, 30th Brigade, and 29th Brigade were to 
operate on the 60th Division's left, with the Aus- 
tralian Mounted Division watching the left flank of 
XXth Corps. The Turkish Vllth Army and 3rd 
Cavalry Division were opposing the XXth Corps, 
another Division was opposite the 53rd Division 
and the Imperial Camel Corps with the 12th Depot 
Regiment at Dharahiyeh on the Hebron road, the 
16th Division opposite our 74th, the 24th and 26th 


Divisions opposite our 69th, and the 54th against 
the 10th Division. Tlie 3rd, 53rd, and 7th Turkish 
Divisions were in the Gaza area. 

At daybreak the troops advanced to the attack. 
The first part of the Hne in front of the 231st Brigade 
was a serious obstacle. Two or three small outlying 
rifle pits had to be taken before the Division could 
proceed with its effort to drive the enemy out of 
Sheria and protect the flank of the 60th Division, 
which had to cross the railway where a double line 
of trenches was to be tackled, the rear line above the 
other with the flank well thrown back and protected 
by small advanced pits to hold a few men and 
machine guns. The Turks held on very obstinately 
to their ground east of the railway, and kept the 
74th Division at bay till one o'clock in the afternoon, 
but the artillery of that Division had for some time 
been assisting in the wire-cutting in front of the 
trenches to be assaulted by the 60th Division, and 
the latter went ahead soon after noon, and with the 
assistance of one brigade of the 10th Division, had 
won about 4000 yards of the complicated trench 
system and most of the Rushdi system by half-past 
two. The Londoners then swung to the north and 
occupied the station at Sheria, while the dismounted 
yeomanry worked round farther east, taking a series 
of isolated trenches on the way, the Irish troops re- 
lieving the 60th in the captured trenches at Kauwukah. 
The 60th Division, having possession of the larger 
part of Sheria, intended to attack the hill there at 
nightfall, and the attack was in preparation when an 
enemy dump exploded and a huge fire lighted up the 
whole district, so that all troops would have been 
exposed to the fire of the garrison on the hill. General 
Shea therefore stopped the attack, but the hill was 
stormed at 4.30 next morning and carried at the point 


of the bayonet. A bridgehead was then formed at 
Sheria, and the Londoners fought all day and stopped 
one counter-attack when it was within 200 yards of 
our line. On that same morning the Irish troops 
had extended then' gains westwards from the Rushdi 
system till they got to Hareira Tepe Redoubt, a high 
mound 500 yards across the top, which had been 
criss-crossed w4th trenches with wire hanging about 
some broken ground at the bottom. Here there was 
a hot tussle, but the Irishmen valiantly pushed 
through and not only gave XXth Corps the whole of 
its objectives and completed the turn of the enemy's 
left flank, but joined up wdth the XXIst Corps. The 
workmg of XXth Corps' scheme had again been 
admirable, and once more the staff work had enabled 
the movements to be timed perfectly. 

The Desert Mounted Corps was thus able to draw 
up to Sheria in readiness to take up the pursuit and 
to get the water supply at Nejile. This ended the 
XXth Corps' task for a few days, though the 60th 
Division became temporarily attached to Desert 
Moimted Corps. XXth Corps had nobly done its part. 
The consummate ability, energy, and foresight of the 
corps commander had been supported throughout 
by the skill of divisional and brigade commanders. 
For the men no praise could be too high. The atten- 
tion given to their training was well repaid. They 
bore the strain of long marches on hard food and a 
small allowance of water in a way that proved their 
physique to be only matched by their courage, and 
that was of a high order. Their discipline was 
admirable, their determination alike in attack and 
defence strong and well sustained. To say they were 
equal to the finest troops in the world might lay one 
open to a charge of exaggeration when it was im- 
possible to get a fair ground of comparison, seeing 


the conditions of fighting on different fronts was so 
varied, but the trials through which the troops of 
XXth Corps passed up to the end of the first week of 
November, and their magnificent accompHshments 
by the end of the year, make me doubt whether any 
other corps possessed finer soldierly qualities. The 
men were indeed splendid. The casualties sustained 
by the XXth Corps from October 31 to Novem- 
ber 16 were : killed, officers 63, other ranks 869 ; 
wounded, officers 198, other ranks 4246 ; missing, 
no officers, 108 other ranks — a total of 261 officers 
and 5223 other ranks. 

During the period after Beersheba when the XXth 
Corps troops were concentrating to break up the 
Turks' defensive position on the left, the Desert 
Mounted Corps was busily engaged holding a line 
eight or ten miles north and north-east of Beersheba, 
and watching for any movement of troops down the 
Hebron road. The 2nd Australian Light Horse 
Brigade and 7th Mounted Brigade tried to occupy 
a line from KhuweiHeh to Dharahiyeh, but it was 
not possible to reach it — a fact by no means surpris- 
ing, as in the light of subsequent knowledge it was 
clear that the Turks had put much of their strength 
there. A patrol of Light Horsemen managed to work 
round to the north of Dharahiyeh, a curious group 
of mud houses on a hill-top inhabited by natives who 
have yet to appreciate the evils of grossly overcrowded 
quarters as well as some of the elementary principles 
of sanitation, and they saw a number of motor lorries 
come up the admirably constructed hill road designed 
by German engineers. The lorries were hurrying from 
the Jerusalem area with reinforcements. Prisoners 
— several hundreds of them in all — ^were brought in 
daily, but no attempt was made to force the enemy 
back until November 6, when the 53rd Division, 


which for the time being was attached to the Desert 
Mounted Corps, drove the Turks off the whole of 
Khuweilfeh, behaving as I have ah-eady said with 
fine gallantr}/ and inflicting severe losses. There 
were also counter-attacks launched against the 5th 
Mounted Brigade, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles 
Brigade, and the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, but 
these were likewise beaten off with considerable 
casualties to the enemy. When the XXth Corps 
had captured the Khauwukah system, a detachment 
for the defence of the right flank of the Army was 
formed under the command of Major-General G. de S. 
Barrow, the G.O.C. Yeomanry Mounted Division, 
consisting of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, 53rd 
Division, Yeomanry Mounted Division, New Zealand 
Mounted Rifles Brigade, and two squadrons and eight 
machine guns of the 2nd Australian Light Horse 
Brigade. The Australian Mounted Division marched 
from Karm, whither it had been sent on account of 
water difficulties, to rejoin Desert Mounted Corps to 
whom the 60th Division was temporarily attached. 
The Desert Corps had orders on November 7 to push 
through as rapidly as possible to the line wadi Jem- 
mameh-Huj, and from that day the Corps commenced 
its long march to Jaffa, a march which, though 
strongly opposed by considerable bodies of troops, 
was more often interfered with by lack of water than 
by difficulty in defeating the enemy. 

The scarcity of water was a sore trouble. There 
was an occasional pool here and there, but generally 
the only water procurable was in deep wells giving 
a poor yield. The cavalry will not forget that long 
trek. No brigade could march straight ahead. 
Those operating in the foothills on our right had to 
fight all the way, and they were often called upon to 
resist counter-attacks by strong rearguards issuing 


from the hills to threaten the flank and so delay the 
advance in order to permit the Turks to carry off 
some of their material. It was necessary almost 
every day to withdraw certain formations from the 
front and send them back a considerable distance to 
water, replacing them by other troops coming from 
a well centre. In this way brigades were not in- 
frequently attached to divisions other than their 
own, and the administrative services were heavily 
handicapped. Several times whole brigades were 
without water for forty-eight hours, and though 
supplies reached them on all but one or two occasions 
they were often late, and an exceedingly severe strain 
was put on the transport. During that diagonal 
march across the Maritime Plain I heard infantry 
ofi&cers remark that the Australians always seemed 
to have their supplies up with them. I do not think 
the supphes were always there, but they generally 
were not far behind, and if resource and energy could 
work miracles the Australian supply officers deserve 
the credit for them. The divisional trains worked 
hard in those strenuous days, and the ' Q ' staff of 
the Desert Mounted Corps had many a sleepless night 
devising plans to get that last ounce out of their trans- 
port men and to get that Httle extra amount of sup- 
plies to the front which meant the difference between 
want and a sufficiency for man and horse. 

On the 7th November the 60th Division after its 
spirited attack on Tel el Sheria crossed the wadi and 
advanced north about two miles, fighting obstinate 
rearguards all the way. The 1st Australian Light 
Horse took 300 prisoners and a considerable quantity 
of ammunition and stores at Ameidat, and with the 
remainder of the Anzac Division reached Tel Abu 
Dilakh by the evening, and the Australian Mounted 
Division filled the gap between the Anzacs and the 


Londoners, but having been unable to water could 
not advance further. The 8th November was a busy 
and brilliantly successful day. The Corps' effort was 
to make a wide sweeping movement in order first to 
obtain the valuable and urgently required water at 
Nejile, and then to push across the hills and rolling 
downs to the country behind Gaza to harass the 
enemy retreating from that town. The Turks had 
a big rearguard south-west of Nejile and made a 
strong effort to delay the capture of that place, the 
importance of which to us they realised to the full, 
and they were prepared to sacrifice the whole of the 
rearguard if they could hold us off the water for 
another twenty-four hours. The pressure of the 
Anzac Division and the 7th Mounted Brigade as- 
sisting it was too much for the enemy, who though 
holding on to the hills very stoutly till the last moment 
had to give way and leave the water in our undisputed 
possession. The Sherwood Rangers and South Notts 
Hussars were vigorously counter-attacked at Mud- 
weiweh, but they severely handled the enemy, who 
retired a much weakened body. 

By the evening the Anzacs held the country from 
Nejile to the north bank of the wadi Jemmameh, 
having captured 300 prisoners and two guns. The 
Australian Mounted Division made an excellent ad- 
vance round the north side of Huj, which had been 
the Turkish Vlllth Army Headquarters, and the 4th 
Australian Light Horse Brigade was in touch with 
the corps cavalry of XXIst Corps at Beit Hanun, 
while the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade had 
taken prisoners and two of the troublesome Austrian 
5-9 howitzers. 

It was the work of the 60th Division in the centre, 
however, which was the outstanding feature of the 
day, though the Londoners readily admitted that 


without the glorious charge of the Worcester and 
Warwickshire Yeomanry in the afternoon they would 
not have been in the neighbourhood of Huj when 
darkness fell. The 60th were in the centre, sand- 
wiched between the Anzacs and Australian Mounted 
Division, and their allotted task was to clear the 
country between Sheria and Huj, a distance of ten 
miles. The country was a series of billowy downs 
with valleys seldom more than 1000 yards wide, and 
every yard of the way was opposed by infantry and 
artillery. Considering the opposition the progress 
was good. The Londoners drove in the Turks' strong 
flank three times, first from the hill of Zuheilika, then 
from the cultivated area behind it, and thirdly from 
the wadi-torn district of Muntaret el Baghl, from 
which the infantry proceeded to the high ground to 
the north. It was then between two and three o'clock 
in the afternoon, and maps showed that between the 
Division and Huj there was nearly four miles of most 
difficult country, a mass of wadi beds and hills giving 
an enterprising enemy the best possible means for 
holding up an advance. General Shea went ahead 
in a light armoured car to reconnoitre, and saw a 
strong body of Turks with guns marching across his 
front. It was impossible for his infantry to catch 
them and, seeing ten troops of Warwick and Wor- 
cester Yeomanry on his right about a mile away, 
he went over to them and ordered Lieut. -Colonel 
H. Cheape to charge the enemy. It was a case for 
instant action. The enemy were a mile and a half 
from our cavalry. The gunners had come into action 
and were shelling the London Territorials, but they 
soon had to switch off and fire at a more terrifying 
target. Led by their gallant Colonel, a Master of 
Foxhounds who was afterwards drowned in the Medi- 
terranean, the yeomen swept over a ridge in successive 


lines and raced down the northern slope on to the 
flat, at first making direct for the guns, then swerving 
to the left under the direction of Colonel Cheape, 
whose eye for country led him to take advantage of a 
mound on the opposite side of the valley. Over this 
rise the Midland yeomen spurred their chargers and, 
giving full-throated cheers, dashed through the Turks' 
left flank guard and went straight for the guns. 
Their ranks were somewhat thinned, for they had 
been exposed to a heavy machine-gun fire as w^ell as 
to the fire of eight field guns and three 5*9 howitzers 
worked at the highest pressure. The gunners were 
nearly all Germans and Austrians and they fought 
well. They splashed the valley with shrapnel, and 
during the few moments' lull when the yeomam-y were 
lost to view behind the mound they set their shell 
fuses at zero to make them burst at the mouth of the 
guns and act as case shot. They tore some gaps in 
the yeomen's ranks, but nothing could stop that 
charge. Tlie Midlanders rode straight at the guns 
and sabred every artilleryman at his piece. The 
Londoners say they heard all the guns stop dead at 
the same moment and they knew they had been 
silenced in true Balaclava style. Having wiped out 
the batteries the yeomen again answered the call of 
their leader and swept up a ridge to deal efiectively 
with three machine guns, and having used the white 
arm against their crews the guns were turned on to 
the retreating Turks and decimated their ranks. This 
charge was witnessed by General Shea, and I know 
it is his opinion that it was executed with the greatest 
gallantry and elan, and was worthy of the best tradi- 
tions of British cavalry. The yeomanry lost about 
twenty-five per cent, of their number in casualties, 
but their action was worth the price, for they com- 
pletely broke up the enemy resistance and enabled 


the London Division to push straight through to Huj. 
The Warwick and Worcester Yeomanry received the 
personal congratulations of the Commander-in-Chief, 
and General Shea was also thanked by General 

During this day General Shea accompUshed what 
probably no other Divisional Commander did in this 
war. When out scouting in a light armoured car he 
was within 500 yards of a big ammunition dump 
which was blown up. He saw the three men who had 
destroyed it running away, and he chased them into 
a wadi and machine-guimed them. They held up 
their hands and were astonished to find they had 
surrendered to a General. These men were captured 
in the nick of time. But for the appearance of 
General Shea they would have destroyed another 
dump, which we captured intact. 

I was with the Division the night after they had 
taken Huj. It was their first day of rest for some 
time, but the men showed few signs of fatigue. No 
one could move among them without being proud 
of the Londoners. They were strong, self-reliant, 
weU-disciplined, brave fellows. I well remember 
what Colonel Temperley, the G.S.O. of the Division, 
told me when sitting out on a hill in the twilight 
that night. Colonel Temperley had been brigade 
major of the first New Zealand Infantry Brigade 
which came to Egypt and took a full share in the 
work on Gallipoli on its way to France. He had 
over two years of active service on the Western Front 
before coming out to Palestine for duty with the 
60th Division, and his views on men in action were 
based on the sound experience of the professional 
soldier. Of the London County Territorials he said : 
' I cannot speak of these warriors without a lump 
rising in my throat. These Cockneys are the best 


men in the world. Their spirits are simply wonder- 
ful, and I do not think any division ever went into 
a big show with higher moral. After three years of 
war it is refreshing to hear the men's earnestly ex- 
pressed desire to go into action again. These grand 
fellows went forward with the full bloom on them, 
there never was any hesitation, their discipline was 
absolutely perfect, their physique and courage were 
alike magnificent, and their valour beyond words. 
The Cockney makes the perfect soldier.' I wrote 
at the time that ' whether the men came from 
Bermondsey, Camberwell or Keimington, or be- 
longed to what were known as class corps, such as 
the Civil Service or Kensingtons, before the war, all 
battahons were equally good. They were trained 
for months for the big battle till their bodies were 
brought to such a state of fitness that Spartan fare 
durmg the ten days of ceaseless action caused neither 
grumble nor fatigue. The men may well be re- 
warded with the title "London's Pride," and London 
is honoured by having such stalwarts to represent 
the heart of the British Empire. In eight days the 
Londoners marched sixty-six miles and fought a 
number of hot actions. The march may not seem 
long, but Palestine is not Salisbury Plain. A leg- 
weary man was asked by an officer if his feet were 
bhstered, and replied : *'They 're rotten sore, but my 
heart 's gay." That is typical of the spirit of these 
unconquerable Cockneys. I have just left them. 
They still have the bloom of freshness and I do not 
think it will ever fade. Scorching winds which parched 
the throat and made everything one wore hot to the 
touch were enough to oppress the staunchest soldier, 
but these sterhng Territorials, costers and labourers, 
artisans and tradesmen, professional men and men 
of independent means, true brothers in arms and 



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good Britons, left their bivouacs and trudged across 
heavy country, fearless, strong, proud, and with the 
cheerfulness of good men who fight for right.' What 
I said in those early days of the great advance was 
more than borne out later, and in the capture of 
Jerusalem, in taking Jericho, and in forcing the passage 
of the Jordan this glorious Division of Londoners 
was always the same, a pride to its commander, a 
bulwark of the XXth Corps, and a great asset of the 



On the Gaza section of the front the XXIst Corps 
had been busily occupied with preparations for a 
powerful thrust through the remainder of the de- 
fences on the enemy's right when the XXth Corps 
should have succeeded in turning the main positions 
on the left. The 52nd Division on the coast was 
ready to go ahead immediately there was any sign 
that the enemy, seeing that the worst was about to 
happen, intended to order a general retirement, 
and then it would be a race and a fight to prevent 
his estabhshing himself on the high ground north 
of the wadi Hesi. Should he fail to do that there 
was scarcely a possibihty of the Turks holding us 
up till we got to the Jaffa-Jerusalem road, though 
between Gaza and that metalled highway there 
were many points of strength from which they could 
fight delaying actions. It is very doubtful whether 
the Turkish General Staff gave the cavalry credit 
for being able to move across the Plam in the middle 
of November when the wadis are absolutely dry 
and the water-level in the wells is lower than at 
any other period of the year. Nor did they imagine 
that the transport difficulties for infantry divisions 
fed as ours were could be surmounted. They may 
have thought that if they could secure the wadi 
Hesi line before we got into position to threaten it 
in flank they would immobihse our Army till the 
rams began, and there was a possibihty of sitting 



facing each other in wet uncomfortable trench 
quarters till the flowers showed themselves in the 
spring, by which time, the Bagdad venture of the 
German Higher Command proving hopeless before it 
was started, a great volume of reinforcements might 
be diverted to Southern Palestine with Turkish 
divisions from the Salonika front and a stiffening 
of German battalions spared from Europe in con- 
sequence of the Russian collapse. 

Whatever they may have been, the Turkish cal- 
culations were completely upset. The cavalry's 
water troubles remained and no human foresight 
could have smoothed them over, but the transport 
problem was solved in this way. During the attack 
on Beersheba XXIst Corps came to the aid of XXth 
Corps by handing over to it the greater part of its 
camel convoys and lorries, so much transport, in- 
deed, that a vast amount of work in the Gaza sector 
fell to be done by a greatly depleted supply staff. 
When Beersheba had been won and the enemy's left 
flank had been smashed and thrown back, the XXth 
Corps repaid the XXIst Corps, not only by returning 
what it had borrowed, but by marching back into 
the region of railhead at Karm, where it could live 
with a minimum of transport and send all its surplus 
to work in the coastal sector. The switching over 
of this transport was a fine piece of organisation. 
On the allotted day many thousands of camels were 
seen drawn out in huge Unes all over the country 
intersected by the wadi Ghuzze, slowly converging 
on the spots at which they could be barracked and 
rested before loading for the advance. The lorries 
took other paths. There was no repose for their 
drivers. They worked till the last moment on the 
east, and then, caked with the accumulated dust of 
a week's weary labour in sand and powdered earth, 


turned westward to arrive just in time to load up and 
be off again in pursuit of infantry, some making the 
mistake of travelling between the West and East 
Towns of Gaza, while others took the longer and 
sounder but still treacherous route east of Ah Muntar 
and through the old positions of the Turks. These 
lorry drivers were wonderful fellows who laughed at 
their trials, but in the days and nights when they 
bumped over the uneven tracks and negotiated earth 
rents that threatened to swallow their vehicles, they 
put their faith in the promise of the railway con- 
structors to open the station at Gaza at an early date. 
Even Gaza, though it saved them so many toilsome 
miles, did not help them greatly because of a terrible 
piece of road north-east of the station, but Beit 
Hanun was comfortable and for the relief brought 
by the railway's arrival at Deir Sineid they were 
profoundly grateful. 

But this is anticipating the story of Gaza's capture. 
The XXIst Corps had not received its additional 
transport when it gained the ancient city of the Phihs- 
tines, though it knew some of it was on the way 
and most of it about to start on its westward trek. 
On the day of November 4 and during the succeed- 
ing night the Navy co-operated with the Corps' 
artillery in destroying enemy trenches and gun 
positions, and the Ali Muntar Ridge was a glad sight 
for tired gunners' eyes. The enemy showed a dis- 
position to retahate, and on the afternoon of the 
4th he put up a fierce bombardment of our front- 
line positions from Outpost Hill to the sea, including 
in his fire area the whole of the trenches we had taken 
from him from Umbrella Hill to Sheikh Hasan. 
Many observers of this bombardment by all the 
Turks' guns of heavy, medium, and small cahbre 
declared it was the prelude not of an attack but of 


a retirement, and that the Turks were loosing off a 
lot of the ammunition they knew they could not 
carry away. They were probably right, though the 
enemy made no sign of going away for a couple of 
days, but if he thought his demonstration by artillery 
was going to hasten back to Gaza some of the troops 
assembling against the left of his main line he was 
grievously in error. The XXIst Corps was strong 
enough to deal with any attack the Turks could 
launch, and they would have been pleased if an 
attempt to reach our hnes had been made. 

Next day the Turks were much quieter. They 
had to sit under a terrific fire both on the 5th and 6th 
November, when in order to assist XXth Corps' 
operations the Corps' heavy artillery, the divisional 
artillery, and the warships' guns carried out an in- 
tense bombardment. The land guns searched the 
Turks' front line and reserve systems, while the 
Navy fired on Fryer's Hill to the north of Ah Muntar, 
Sheikh Redwan, a sandhill with a native chief's 
tomb on the crest, north of Gaza, and on trenches 
not easily reached by the Corps' guns. 

During the night of November 6-7 General Palin's 
75th Division, as a preliminary to a major operation 
timed for the following morning, attacked and gained 
the enemy's trenches on Outpost Hill and the whole 
of Middlesex Hill to the north of it, the opposition 
being less serious than was anticipated. At day- 
hght the 75th Division pushed on over the other 
hills towards Ali Muntar and gained that dominating 
position before eight o'clock. The fighting had not 
been severe, and it was soon realised that the enemy 
had left Gaza, abandoning a stronghold which had 
been prepared for defence with all the ingenuity 
German masters of war could suggest and into which 
had been worked an enormous amount of material. 


It was obvious from the complete success of XXth 
Corps' operations against the Turkish left, which had 
been worked out absolutely ' according to plan,' 
that General Allenby had so thoroughly mystified 
von Kressenstein that the latter had put all his 
reserves into the wrong spot, and that the 53rd 
Division's stout resistance against superior numbers 
had pinned them down to the wrong end of the line. 
There was notliing, therefore, for the Turk to do 
but to try to hold another position, and he was 
straining every nerve to reach it. The East Anglian 
Division went up west of Gaza and held from Sheikh 
Redwan to the sea by seven o'clock, two squadrons 
of the Corps' cavalry rode along the seashore and had 
patrols on the wadi Hesi a little earlier than that, 
and the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade, composed 
of troops raised and maintained by patriotic Indian 
princes, passed through Gaza at nine o'clock and went 
out towards Beit Hanun. To the Lowland Division 
was given the important task of getting to the right 
or northern bank of the wadi Hesi. These imper- 
turbable Scots left their trenches in the morning 
dehghted at the prospect of once more engaging 
in open warfare. They marched along the beach 
under cover of the low sand cliffs, and by dusk had 
crossed the mouth of the wadi and held some of the 
high ground to the north in face of determined opposi- 
tion. The 157th Brigade, after a march through 
very heavy going, got to the wadi at five in the 
afternoon and saw the enemy posted on the opposite 
bank. The place was reconnoitred and the brigade 
made a fine bayonet charge in the dark, securing 
the position between ten and eleven o'clock. On 
this and succeeding days the division had to fight 
very hard indeed, and they often met the enemy with 
the bayonet. One of their officers told me the Scot 


was twice as good as the Turk in ordinary fighting, 
but with the bayonet his advantage was as five to 
one. The record of the Division throughout the 
campaign showed this was no too generous an esti- 
mate of their powers. After securing AU Muntar 
the 75th Division advanced over Fryer's Hill to 
Austraha Hill, so that they held the whole ridge 
running north and south to the eastward of Gaza. 
The enemy still held to his positions to the right of 
his centre, and from the Atawineh Redoubt, Tank 
Redoubt, and Beer trenches there was considerable 
shelling of Gaza and the Ali Muntar ridge throughout 
the day. A large number of shells fell in the planta- 
tions on the western side of the ridge ; our mastery 
of the air prevented enemy aviators observing for 
their artillery, or they would have seen no traffic 
was passing along that way. We were using the old 
Cairo ' road,' and as far as I could see not an enemy 
shell reached it, though when our troops were in 
the town of Gaza there were many crumps and 
woolly bears to disturb the new occupation. But 
all went swimmingly. It was true we had only 
captured the well-cracked shell of a town, but the 
taking of it was full of promise of greater things, 
and those of us who looked on the mutilated remnants 
of one of the world's oldest cities felt we were indeed 
witnesses of the beginning of the downfall of the 
Turkish Empire. Next morning the 75th Division cap- 
tured Beer trenches and Tank and Atawineh Redoubts 
and linked up with the Irish Division of XXth Corps 
on its right. They were shelled heavily, but it was the 
shelling of rearguards and not attackers, and soon after 
twelve o'clock we had the best of evidence that the 
Turks were saying good-bye to a neighbourhood 
they had long inhabited. I was standing on Rasp- 
berry Hill, the battle headquarters of XXIst Corps, 


when I heard a terrific report. Staff officers who were 
used to the visitations of aerial marauders came out 
of their shelters and searched the pearly vault of the 
heavens for Fritz. No machine could be found. 
Some one looking across the country towards Atawineh 
saw a huge mushroom-shaped cloud, and then we 
knew that one enormous dump at least contained 
no more projectiles to hold up an advance. This 
ammunition store must have been eight miles away 
as the crow fhes, but the noise of the explosion was 
so violent that it was a considerable time before 
some ofi&cers could be brought to believe an enemy 
plane had not laid an egg near us. The blowing 
up of that dump was a signal that the Turk 
was off. 

The Lowlanders had another very strenuous day 
in the sand-dune belt. First of all they repulsed a 
strong counter-attack from the direction of Askalon. 
Then the 155th Infantry Brigade went forward and, 
swinging to the right, drove the Turks off the rising 
gromid north-west of Deir Sineid, the possession of 
which would determine the question whether the 
Turk could hold on in this quarter sufficiently long 
to enable him to get any of his material away by his 
railway and road. The enemy put in a counter- 
attack of great violence and forced the Scots back. 
The 157th Brigade in the early evening attacked the 
ridge and gained the whole of their objectives by 
eight o'clock. There ensued some sanguinary strug- 
gles on this sandy ground during the night. The 
Turks were determined to have possession of it and 
the Scots were wiUing to fight it out to a finish. The 
first counter-attack in the dark hours drove the Low- 
landers off, but they were shortly afterwards back 
on the hills again. The Turks returned and pushed 
the Highland Light Infantry and Argyll and Suther- 


land Highlanders off a second time. A third attack 
was dehvered with splendid vigour and the enemy- 
left many dead, but they renewed their efforts to 
get the commanding ground and succeeded once 
more. The dogged Scots, however, were not to be 
denied. They re-formed and swept up the heavy 
shifting sand, met the Turk on the top with a clash 
and knocked him down the reverse slope. Soon 
afterwards there was another ding-dong struggle. 
The Turks, putting in all their available strength, 
for a fourth time got the upper hand, and the Low- 
landers had to yield the ground, doing it slowly and 
reluctantly and with the determination to try again. 
They were Robert Bruces, aU of them. It 's the best 
that stays the longest. After a brief rest these heroic 
Scots once more swarmed up the ridge. Their cheers 
had the note of victory in them, they drove their 
bayonets home with the haymakers' Hft, and what 
was left of the Turks fled helter-skelter down the 
hill towards Deir Sineid, broken, dismayed, beaten, 
and totally unable to make another effort. The 
H.L.I. Brigade's victory was bought at a price. The 
cost of that hill was heavy, but the Turks' tale of dead 
was far heavier than ours, and we had won and held 
the hills and consoUdated them. The Turks then 
turned their faces to the north and the Scots hurried 
them on. The Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade 
had also met with considerable resistance, but they 
worked up to and on the ridge overlooking Beit 
Hanun from the east and captured a 5*9. By evening 
these Indian horsemen were Hnked up with the 4th 
Australian Light Horse Brigade on their right and 
the 52nd Division on their left, and pursued the enemy 
as far as Tumrah and Deir Sineid. 

General Headquarters directed that two infantry 
divisions should advance to the line Julis-Hamameh 


in support of mounted troops, and the 75th Division 
was accordingly ordered from its position east of Gaza 
up to Beit Hanun. On the 9th November the 52nd 
Division was again advancing. The 156th Brigade 
had moved forward from the Gaza trenches. One 
officer, five grooms, and two signallers mounted on 
second horses formed a little party to reconnoitre 
Askalon, and riding boldly into the ancient landing 
place of the Crusader armies captured the ruined 
town unaided. There are visible remains of its old 
strength, but the power of Askalon has departed. 
It still stands looking over the blue Mediterranean 
as a sort of watch tower, a silent, deserted outpost 
of the land the Crusaders set their hearts on gaining 
and preserving for Christianity, but behind it is many 
centuries' accumulation of sand encroaching upon 
the fertile plain, and no effort has been made to stop 
the inroad. The gallant half-dozen having reported 
to the 156th Brigade that Askalon was open to them 
— the Brigade occupied the place at noon — rode across 
the sand-dunes to the important native town of 
Mejdel, where there was a substantial bazaar doing 
a good trade in the essentials for native existence, 
beans and cereals in plenty, fruit, and tobacco of 
execrable quahty. At Mejdel the six accepted the 
surrender of a body of Turks guarding a substantial 
ammunition dump and rejoined their units, satisfied 
with the day's adventure. The Turks had retired 
a considerable distance during the day. The prin- 
cipal body was moving up what is called the main 
road from Deir Sineid, through Beit Jerjal to Juhs, 
to get to Suafir esh Sherkiyeh, Kustineh, and Junction 
Station, from which they could reach Latron by a 
metalled road, or Ramleh by a hard mud track by 
the side of their railway. They were clearly going 
to oppose us all the way or they would lose the whole 


of their material, and their forces east and west of 
the road were well handled in previously selected 
and partially prepared positions. 

They left behind them the unpleasant trail of a 
defeated army. Turks had fallen by the way and 
the natives would not bury them. Our aircraft had 
bombed the road, and the dead men, cattle and horses, 
and smashed transport were ghastly sights and made 
the air ofifensive. There they lay, one long line of 
dead men and animals, and if a London fog had 
descended to blind the eyes of our Army the sense 
of smell would still have carried a scout on the direct 
line of the Turkish retreat. 

I will break off the narrative of fighting at this 
point to describe a scene which expressed more 
eloquently than anything else I witnessed in Palestine 
how deeply engraved in the native mind was the 
conviction that Britain stood for fair dealing and 
freedom. The inhabitants, like the Arabs of the 
desert, do not allow their faces to betray their feelings. 
They preserve a stolid exterior, and it is difficult to 
tell from their demeanour whether they are friendly 
or indifferent to you. But their actions speak aloud. 
Early on the morning after the Lowlanders had 
entered Me j del I was in the neighbourhood. Our 
guns banging away to the north were a reminder that 
there was to be no promenade over the Plain, and 
that we had yet to make good the formidable obstacle 
of the wadi Sukereir, when I passed a curious pro- 
cession. People whom the Turks had turned out of 
Gaza and the surrounding country were trekking 
back to the spots where they and their forefathers 
had lived for countless generations. All their worldly 
goods and chattels were packed on overloaded camels 
and donkeys. The women bore astonishingly heavy 
loads on their heads, the men rode or walked carrying 


nothing, while patriarchs of famihes were either held 
in donkey saddles or were borne on the shoulders of 
younger men. Agriculturists began to turn out to 
plough and till the fields which had lain fallow while 
the Turkish scourge of war was on the land, and the 
people showed that, now they had the security of 
British protection, they intended at once to resume 
then- industry. The troops had the liveUest welcome 
in passing tlu'ough villages, though the people are not 
as a rule demonstrative ; and one could point to no 
better evidence of the exemplary behaviour of our 
soldiers than the groups of women sitting and gossip- 
ing round the wells during the process of drawing 
water, just as they did in Bibhcal days, heedless of 
the passing troops whom they regarded as their 
protectors. The man behind a rude plough may have 
stopped his ill-matched team of pony and donkey to 
look at a column of troops moving as he had never 
seen troops march before, a head of a family might 
collect the animals carrying his household goods and 
hurry them off the hne of route taken by mihtary 
transport, but neither one nor the other had any fear 
of interference with his work, and the hf e of the whole 
country, one of the most unchanging regions of the 
world, had suddenly again become normal, although 
only yesterday two armies had disputed possession 
of the very soil on which they stood. The moment 
we were victorious old occupations were resumed by 
the people in the way that was a tradition from their 
forefathers. Our victory meant peace and safety, 
according to the native idea, and an end to extortion, 
oppression, and pillage under the name of requisi- 
tions. It also meant prosperity. The native hkes 
to drive a bargain. He will not sell under a fair 
price, and he asks much more in the hope of showing 
a buyer who has beaten him down how cheaply he is 


getting goods. The Army chiefly sought eggs, which 
are hght to carry and easy to cook, and give variety 
to the daily round of bully, biscuit, and jam. The 
soldier is a generous fellow, and if a child asked a 
piastre (2Jd.) for an egg he got it. The price soon 
became four to five for a shilling in cash, though the 
Turks wanted five times that number for an equiva- 
lent sum in depreciated paper currency. The law 
of supply and demand obtained in this old world just 
as at home, and it became sufficient for a soldier to 
ask for an article to show he wanted it and would pay 
almost anything that was demanded. It was curious 
to see how the news spread not merely among traders 
but also among villagers. The men who first occu- 
pied a place found oranges, vegetables, fresh bread, 
and eggs cheap. In Ramleh, for example, a market 
was opened for our troops immediately they got to 
the town, and the goods were sound and sold at fair 
rates. The next day prices were up, and the standards 
fixed behmd the front soon ruled at the fine itself. 
There was no real control attempted, and while the 
extortionate prices charged by Jews in their excellent 
agricultural colonies and by the natives made a poor 
people prosperous, it gave them an exaggerated idea 
of the size of the British purse, and they may be 
disappointed at the limitation of our spending powers 
in the future. Also it was hard on the bravest and 
most chivalrous of fighting men. But it opened the 
eyes of the native, whose happiness and contentment 
were obvious directly we reached his doors. 

Our movements on November 9 were limited by 
the extent to which General Chauvel was able to use 
his cavalry of the Desert Mounted Corps. Water 
was the sole, but absolute handicap. The Yeomanry 
Mounted Division rejoined the Corps on that day 
and got south of Huj, but could not proceed further 


through hick of water and supply difficulties. The 
Australian Mounted Division also had to halt for 
water, and it was left to Anzac Mounted Division, 
plus the 7th Mounted Brigade, to march eighteen 
miles north-westwards to occupy the line Et Tineh- 
Beit Duras-Jcmameh-Esdud (the Ashdod of the 
Bible). The 52nd Division occupied the area Esdud- 
Mej del-Herb ieli by the evening of the 10th, and on 
the way, Australian cavalry being held up on a ridge 
north of Beit Duras, the 157th Brigade made another 
of its fine bayonet charges at night and captured the 
ground, enabling the cavalry to get at some precious 
water. The brigade made the attack just after 
completing a fourteen miles' march in heavy going, 
achieving the remarkable record of having had three 
bayonet battles on three nights out of four. On 
this occasion the Turks again suffered heavy casual- 
ties in men and lost many machine guns. The 75th 
Division prolonged the infantry line through Ghar- 
biyeh to Berberah. The 54th Division was in the 
Gaza defences with all its transport allotted to the 
divisions taking part in the forward move, but as 
the 54th had five days' rations in dumps close at hand 
it was able to maintain itself, and the railway was 
being pushed on from the wadi Ghuzze with the 
utmost speed. The iron road in war is an army's 
jugular vein, and each mile added to its length was 
of enormous value during the advance. 

General Allenby, looking well ahead and realising 
the possibilities opened out by his complete success 
in every phase of the operations on the Turks' main 
defensive line, on the 10th November ordered the 
52nd and 75th Divisions to concentrate on their 
advanced guards so as to support the cavalry on 
their front and to prevent the Turk consolidating 
on the line of the wadi Sukereir. The enemy was 


developing a more organised resistance on a crescent- 
shaped line from Et Tineh through Yasur to Beshshit, 
and it was necessary to adopt deliberate methods 
of attack to move him. The advance on the 11th 
was the preliminary to three days of stirring fighting. 
The Turks put up a very strong defence by their 
rearguards, and when one says that at this time 
they were fighting with courage and magnificent 
determination one is not only paying a just tribute 
to the enemy but doing justice to the gallantry and 
skill of the troops who defeated him. The Scots 
can claim a large share of the success of the next 
two days, but British yeomanry took a great part 
in it, and their charge at Mughar, and perhaps their 
charge at Abu Shushe as well, will find a place in 
military text-books, for it has confounded those 
critics who declared that the development of the 
machine gun in modern warfare has brought the uses 
of cavalry down to very narrow limits. 

The 156th Brigade was directed to take Burkah 
on the 12th so as to give the infantry liberty of 
manoeuvre on the following day. Burkah was a 
nasty place to tackle. The enemy had two Unes of 
beautifully sited trenches prepared before he fell 
back from Gaza. The Scots had to attack up a slope 
to the first line, and having taken this to pass down 
another slope for 1000 yards before reaching the glacis 
in front of the second line. The Scottish Rifles 
assaidted this position by day without much artillery 
support, but they took it in magnificent style. It 
looked as if the Turks had accepted the verdict, but 
at night they returned to a brown hill on the right 
and drove the 4th Royal Scots from it. This bat- 
talion came back soon afterwards and retook the 
hill with the assistance of some Gurkhas of General 
Colston's 233rd Infantry Brigade, and the Turk re- 


tired to another spot, hoping that his luck would 
change. Wliile this fighting was going on about 
Burkah the 155tli Brigade went ahead up a road 
which the cavalry said was strongly held. They got 
eight miles north of Esdud, and were in advance of 
the cavah-y, intending to try to secure the two heights 
and villages of Katrah and Mughar on the following 
day. Katrah was a village on a long mound 
south of Mughar, native mud huts constituting its 
southern part, whilst separated from it on the 
northern side by some gardens was a pretty little 
Jewish settlement whose red-tiled houses and orderly 
well-cared-for orchards spoke of the industry of these 
settlers in Zion. All over the hill right up to the 
houses the cactus flourished, and the hedges were a 
replica of the terrible obstacles at Gaza. From 
Katrah the gromid sloped down to the flat on all 
four sides, so that the village seemed to stand on an 
island in the plain. A mile due west of it was 
Beshshit, while one mile to the north across more 
than one wadi stood El Mughar at the southern end 
of an irregular line of hills which separated Yebnah 
and Akir, which will be more readily recognised, the 
former as the Jamnia of the Jews and the latter as 
Ekron, one of the famous Philistine cities. While 
the 75th Division was forcing back the hne Turmus- 
Kustineh-Yasur and Mesmiyeh athwart the road to 
Junction Station the 155th Brigade attacked Katrah. 
The whole of the artillery of two divisions opened a 
bombardment of the line at eight o'clock, but the 
Turks showed more willingness to concede ground 
on the east than at Katrah, where the machine-gun 
fire was exceptionally heavy. General Pollak M'Call 
decided to assault the village with the bulk of his 
brigade, and seizing a rifle and bayonet from a wounded 
man, led the charge himself, took the village, and 


gradually cleared the enemy out of the cactus- 
enclosed gardens. The enemy losses at Katrah were 
very heavy. In crossing a rectangular field many 
Turks were caught in a cross fire from our machine 
guns, and over 400 dead were counted in this 
one field. 



In front of the mud huts of Mughar, so closely packed 
together on the southern slope of the hill that the 
dwellmgs at the bottom seemed to keep the upper 
houses from falling into the plain, there was a long 
oval garden with a clump of cypresses in the centre, 
the whole surrounded by cactus hedges of great 
age and strength. In the cypresses was a nest of 
machine guns whose crews had a perfect view of 
an advance from Katrah. The infantry had to ad- 
vance over flat open ground to the edge of the garden. 
The Turkish machine-gunners and riflemen in the 
garden and village were supported by artillery firing 
from behind the ridge at the back of the village, 
and although the brigade made repeated efforts to 
get on, its advance was held up in the early afternoon, 
and it seemed impossible to take the place by in- 
fantry from the south in the clear light of a November 
afternoon. The 6th Mounted Brigade commanded 
by Brigadier-General C. A. C. Godwin, D.S.O., com- 
posed of the 1/lst Bucks Hussars, 1/lst Berkshire Yeo- 
manry, and 1/lst Dorset Yeomanry, the Berkshire 
battery Royal Horse Artillery, and the 17th Machine 
Gun Squadron — old campaigners with the Egyptian 
Expeditionary Force — had worked round to the left 
of the Lowlanders and had reached a point about 
two miles south-west of Yebnah, that place having 
been occupied by the 8th Mounted Brigade, com- 
posed of the 1/lst City of London Yeomanry, 1/lst 



County of London Yeomanry, and the l/3rd County 
of London Yeomanry. At haK-past twelve the Bucks 
Hussars less one squadron and the Berks battery, 
which were in the rear of the brigade, advanced via 
Beshshit to the wadi Janus, a deep watercourse with 
precipitous banks running across the plain east of 
Yebnah and joining the wadi Rubin. One squadron 
of the Bucks Hussars had entered Yebnah from the 
east, co-operating with the 8th Brigade. General 
Godwin was told over the telephone that the infantry 
attack was held up and that his brigade would 
advance to take Mughar. This order was confirmed 
by telegram a quarter of an hour later as the brigadier 
was about to reconnoitre a hne of approach. The 
Berks battery began shelling Mughar and the ridge 
behind the village from a position half a mile north 
of Beshshit screened by some trees. Brigade head- 
quarters joined the Bucks Hussars headquarters in 
the wadi Janus half a mile south-east of Yebnah, 
where Lieut. -Colonel the Hon. E. Cripps command- 
ing the Bucks Hussars had, with splendid judgment, 
already commenced a valuable reconnaissance, the 
Dorset and Berks Yeomanry being halted in a 
depression out of sight a few hundred yards behind. 
The Turks had the best possible observation, and, 
knowing they were holding up the infantry, con- 
centrated their attention upon the cavalry. Therein 
they showed good judgment, for it was from the 
mounted troops the heavy blow was to fall. Lieut. 
Perkins, Bucks Hussars, was sent forward to re- 
connoitre the wadi Shellal el Ghor, which runs 
parallel to and east of the wadi Janus. He became 
the target of every kind of fire, guns, machine guns, 
and rifles opening on him from the ridge whenever 
he exposed himself. Captain Patron, of the 17th 
Machine Gun Squadron, was similarly treated while 



examining a position from which to cover the advance 
of the brigade with concentrated machine-gun fire. 
It was not an easy thhig to get cavaky into position 
for a mounted attack. Except in the wadis the plain 
between Yebnah and Mughar offered no cover and 
was within easy range of the enemy's guns. The 
wadi Janus was a deep sht in the ground with sides 
of clay falling almost sheer to the stony bottom. 
It was hard to get horses into the wadi and equally 
troublesome to get them to bank again, and the wadi 
in most places was so narrow that horses could only 
move in single file. The Dorsets were brought up 
in small parties to join the Bucks in the wadi, and they 
had to run the gauntlet of shell and rifle fire. The 
Berks were to enter the wadi immediately the Bucks 
had left it. Behind Mughar village and its gardens 
the ground falls sharply, then rises again and forms 
a rocky hill some 300 yards long. There is another 
decline, and north of it a conical shaped hill, also 
stony and barren, though before the crest is reached 
there is some undulating ground which would have 
afforded a little cover if the cunning Turks had not 
posted machine guns on it. The Dorset Yeomanry 
were ordered to attack this latter hill and the Bucks 
Hussars the ridge between it and Mughar village, the 
Berks Yeomanry to be kept in support. There seems 
to be no reason for doubting that Mughar would not 
have been captured that day but for the extremely 
brilliant charge of these home counties yeomen. 
The 155th Brigade was still held fast in that part of 
the wadi Janus which gave cover south-west and south 
of Mughar, and after the charge had been completely 
successful and the yeomanry were working forward 
to clear up the village a message was received — 
timed 2.45 p.m., but received at 4 p.m. — which shows 
the difficulties facing that very gallant infantry 


brigade : ' 52nd Division unable to make progress. 
Co-operate and turn Mughar from the north.' 

It was a hot bright afternoon. The dispositions 
having been made, the Bucks Hussars and Dorset 
Yeomanry got out of the wadi and commenced their 
mounted attack, the Berks battery in the meantime 
having registered on certain points. The Bucks 
Hussars, in column of squadrons extended to four 
yards mterval, advanced at a trot from the wadi, 
which was 3000 yards distant from the ridge which 
was their objective. Two machine guns were at- 
tached to the Bucks and two to the Dorse ts, and the 
other guns under Captain Patron were mounted in 
a position which that officer had chosen in the wadi 
El Ghor from which they could bring to bear a heavy 
fire almost up to the moment the Bucks should be 
on the ridge. This machine-gun ^e was of the 
highest value, and it unquestionably kept many 
Turkish riflemen inactive. ' B ' squadron under Cap- 
tain Bulteel, M.C., was leading, and when 1000 yards 
from the objective the order was given to gallop, 
and horses swept over the last portion of the plain 
and up the hill at a terrific pace, the thundering 
hoofs raising clouds of dust. The tap-tap of machine 
guns firing at the highest pressure, intense rifle fire 
from all parts of the enemy position, the fierce storm 
of shells rained on the hill by the Berks battery, 
which during the charge fired with splendid accuracy 
no fewer than 200 rounds of shrapnel at a range of 
3200 to 3500 yards, and the rapid fire of Turkish 
field guns, completely drowned the cheers of the 
charging yeomen. ' C ' squadron, commanded by Lord 
Rosebery's son. Captain the Hon. Neil Primrose, 
M.C., who was killed on the following day, made an 
equally dashing charge and came up on the right 
of ' B ' squadron. Once the cavalry had reached the 


crest of the hill many of the Turks surrendered and 
threw down their arms, but some retired and then, 
having discovered the weakness of the cavalry, 
returned to some rocks on the flanks and continued 
the fight at close range. Captain Primrose's squad- 
ron was vigorously attacked on his left flank, but 
Captahi Bulteel was able to get over the ridge and 
across the rough, steep eastern side of it, and from 
this point he utilised captured Turkish machine guns 
to put down a heavy barrage on to the northern 
end of the village. ' A ' squadron luider Captain 
Lawson then came up from Yebnah at the gallop, 
and with his support the whole of the Bucks' ob- 
jectives were secured and consolidated. 

The Dorset Yeomanry on the left of the Bucks 
had 1000 yards farther to go, and the country they 
traversed was just as cracked and broken. Their 
horses at the finish were quite exhausted. At the 
base of the hills Captain Dammers dismounted 'A' 
squadron, which charged on the left, and the squadron 
fought their way to the top of the ridge on foot. 
The held horses were caught in a cone of machine- 
gun fire, and in a space of about fifty square yards 
many gallant chargers perished. ' B ' squadron (Major 
Wingfield-Digby) in the centre and ' C ' squadron (Major 
Gordon, M.C.) on the right, led by Colonel Sir Randolf 
Baker, M.P., formed line and galloped the hill, and 
their horse losses were considerably less than those 
of the dismoiuited squadron. The Berks Yeomanry 
moved to the wadi El Ghor under heavy machine- 
gun and rifle fixe from the village and gardens on the 
west side, and two squadrons were dismounted and 
sent into the village to clear it, the remaining squadron 
riding into the plain on the eastern side of the ridge, 
where they collected a number of stragglers. Dotted 
over this plain were many dead Turks who fell under 


the fire of the Machine-Gun Squadron while attempting 
to get to Ramleh. The Turkish dead were numerous 
and their condition showed how thoroughly the 
sword had done its work. I saw many heads cleft 
in twain, and Mughar was not a sweet place to look 
upon and wanted a good deal of clearing up. The 
yeomanry took 18 officers and 1078 other ranks 
prisoners, whilst fourteen machine guns and two 
field guns were captured. But for the tired state 
of the horses many more prisoners would have been 
taken, large numbers being seen making their way 
along the red sand tracks to Ramleh, and an in- 
spection of the route on the morrow told of the pace 
of the retirement brought about by the shock of 
contact with cavalry. Machine guns, belts and 
boxes of ammunition, equipment of all kinds were 
strewn about the paths, and not a few wounded 
Turks had given up the effort to escape and had lain 
down to die. 

The casualties in the 6th Mounted Brigade were 
1 officer killed and 6 wounded, 15 other ranks killed 
and 107 wounded and 1 missing, a remarkably small 
total. Among the mortally wounded was Major de 
Rothschild, who fell within sight of some of the 
Jewish colonies which his family had founded. Two 
hundred and sixty-five horses and two mules were 
killed and wounded in the action. 

Mughar was a great cavalry triumph, and the 
regiments which took part in it confirmed the good 
opinions formed of them in this theatre of war. 
The Dorsets had already made a spirited charge 
against the Senussi in the Western Desert in 1916,^ 
and having suffered from the white arm once those 
misguided Arabs never gave the cavalry another 
chance of getting near them. The Bucks and Berks, 

^ The Desert Campaigns : Constable. 


too, had taken part in that swift and satisfactory 
campaign. All three regiments on the following 
day were to make another charge, this time on one 
of the most famous sites in the battle history of 
Palestine. The 6th Mounted Brigade moved no 
farther on the day of Mughar because the 22nd 
Mounted Brigade, when commencing an attack on 
Akir, the old Philistine city of Ekron, were counter- 
attacked on their left. During the night, however, 
the Turks in Akir probably heard the full story of 
Mughar, and did not wait long for a similar action 
against them. The 22nd Mounted Brigade drove 
them out early next morning, and they went rapidly 
away across the railway at Naaneh, leaving in our 
hands the railway guard of seventy men, and seeking 
the bold crest of Abu Shushe. They moved, as I 
shall presently tell, out of the frying-pan into the 

The 155th Infantry which helped to finish up the 
Mughar business took a gun and fourteen machine 
guns. Then with the remainder of the 52nd Division 
-it had a few hours of hard-earned rest. The Divi- 
sion had had a severe time, but the men bore their 
trials with the fortitude of their race and with a 
spirit which could not be beaten. For several days, 
when water was holding up the cavalry, the Low- 
landers kept ahead of the mounted troops, and one 
battalion fought and marched sixty-nine miles in seven 
days. Their training was as complete as any infantry, 
even the regimental stretcher-bearers being taught 
the use of Lewis guns, and on more than one occasion 
the bearers went for the enemy with Mills bombs 
till a position was captured and they were required 
to tend the wounded. A Stokes -gun crew found 
their weapon very useful in open warfare, and at 
one place where machine guns had got on to a large 


party of Turks and enclosed them in a box barrage, 
the Stokes gun searched every corner of the area 
and finished the whole party. The losses inflicted 
by the Scots were exceptionally severe. Farther 
eastwards on the 13th, the 75th Division had also 
been giving of its best. The objective of this Division 
was the important Junction Station on the Turks' 
Jafia- Jerusalem railway, and a big step forward 
was made in the early afternoon by the overcoming 
of a stubborn resistance at Mesmiyeh, troops rushing 
the village from the south and capturing 292 prisoners 
and 7 machine guns. The 234th Brigade began an 
advance on Junction Station during the night, but 
were strongly counter-attacked and had to halt till 
the moj*ning, when at dawn they secured the best 
positions on the rolling downs west of the station, 
and by 7.30 the station itself was occupied. Two 
engines and 45 vehicles were found intact ; two large 
guns on trucks and over 100 prisoners were also 
taken. The enemy shelled the station during the 
morning, trying in vain to damage his lost rolling 
stock. This booty was of immense value to us, and 
to a large extent it solved the transport problem 
which at this moment was a very anxious one indeed. 
The line was metre gauge and we had no stock to fit 
it, though later the Egyptian State Railways brought 
down some engines and trucks from the Luxor- 
Assou£.n section, but this welcome aid was not avail- 
able till after the rains had begun and had made lorry 
traffic liemporarily impossible between our standard 
gauge railhead and our fighting front. Junction 
Station was no sooner occupied than a light-railway 
staff under Colonel O'Brien was brought up from 
Beit Hanun. The whole of the line to Deir Sineid 
was not in running order, but broken culverts were 
given minor repairs, attention was bestowed on trucks, 


and the engines were closely examined while the Turks 
were shelling the station. The water tanks had been 
destroyed, as a result of which two men spent hours 
in filling up the enghies by means of a water jug and 
basin found in the station buildings, and the Turks 
had the mortification of seeing these engines steam 
out of the station during the morning to a cutting 
which was effective cover from their field-gun fire. 
The light-railway staff were highly delighted at their 
success, and the trains which they soon had running 
over their little system were indeed a boon and a 
blessing to the fighting men and horses. 

On this morning of November 14 the infantry 
were operating with Desert Mounted Corps' troops 
on both their wings. The Austrahan Mounted Divi- 
sion was on the right, fighting vigorous actiors with 
the enemy rearguards secreted in the irregular, 
rocky foothills of the Shephelah which stand as 
ramparts to the Judean Mountains. It was a difficult 
task to drive the Turks out of these fastnesses, and 
while they held on to them it was almost impossible 
to outflank some of the places like Et Tineh, a railway 
station and camp of some importance on the hne to 
Beersheba. They had already had some stiff fighting 
at Tel el Safi, the limestone hill which was the White 
Guard of the Crusaders. The Division suffered 
severely from want of water, particularly the 5th 
Mounted Brigade, and it was necessary to transfer 
to it the 7th Mounted Brigade and the 2nd Aus- 
trahan Light Horse Brigade. On the left of the 
infantry the Yeomanry Mounted Division was moving 
forward from Akir and Mansura, and after trie 22nd 
Moimted Brigade had taken Naaneh they detailed 
a demolition party to blow up one mile of railway, 
so that, even if the 75th Division had not taken 
Junction Station, Jerusalem would have been en- 


tirely cut off from railway communication with the 
Turkish base at Tul Keram, and Haifa and Damascus. 

Between Naaneh and Mansura the 6th Mounted 
Brigade was preparing for another dashing charge. 
The enemy who had been opposing us for two days 
consisted of remnants of two divisions of both the 
Turkish Vllth and Vlllth Armies brought to- 
gether and hurriedly reorganised. The victory at 
Mughar had almost, if not quite, split the force in 
two, that is to say that portion of the line which had 
been given the duty of holding Mughar had been so 
weakened by heavy casualties, and the loss of moral 
consequent upon the shock of the cavalry charge, 
that it had fallen back to Ramleh and Ludd and 
was incapable of further serious resistance. There 
was still a strong and virile force on the seaside, 
though that was adequately dealt with, but the centre 
was very weak, and the enemy's only chance of 
preventing the mounted troops from working through 
and round his right centre was to fall back on Abu 
Shushe and Tel Jezar to cover Latron, with its good 
water supply and the main metalled road where it 
enters the hills on the way to Jerusalem. The loss 
of Tel Jezar meant that we could get to Latron and 
the Vale of Ajalon, and the action of the 6th Mounted 
Brigade on the morning of the 14th gave it to us. 

The Berks Yeomanry had had outposts on the 
railway south-east of Naaneh since before dawn. 
They had seen the position the previous day, and 
at dawn sent forward a squadron dismounted to 
engage the machine guns posted in the walled-in 
house at the north of the village. From the railway 
to the Abu Shushe ridge is about three miles of up 
and down country with two or three rises of sufficient 
height to afford some cover to advancing cavalry. 
General Godwin arranged that six machine guns 


should go forward to give covering fire, and, supported 
by the Berks battery R.H.A. from a good position 
half a mile west of the railway, the Bucks Hussars 
were to deliver a mounted attack against the hill, 
with the assistance on their left of two squadrons 
of Berks Yeomanry. The Dorset Yeomanry were 
moved up to the red hill of Melat into support. 

At seven o'clock the attack started, the 22nd 
Mounted Brigade operating on foot on the left. 
The Bucks Hussars, taking advantage of all the dead 
ground, galloped about a mile and a half until they 
came to a dip behind a gently rising mound, when, 
it being clear that the enemy held the whole ridge 
in strength, Colonel Cripps signalled to Brigade 
Headquarters at Melat for support. The Dorset 
Yeomanry moved out to the right of the Bucks, and 
the latter then charged the hill a little south of the 
village and captured it. It was a fine effort. The 
sides of the hill were steep with shelves of rock, and 
the crest was a mass of stones and boulders, while 
from some caves, one or two of them quite big places, 
the Turks had machine guns in action. When the 
Bucks were charging there was a good deal of machine- 
gun fire &om the right, but the Dorsets dealt with this 
very speedily, assisted by the Berks battery which 
had also moved forward to a near position from 
which they could command the ridge in flank. A 
hostile counter-attack developed against the Dorsets, 
but this was crushed by the Berks batterv and some 
of the 52nd Division's guns. Two squadrons of the 
Berks Yeomanry in the meantime had charged on 
the left of the Bucks and secured the hill immediately 
to the south-east of Abu Shushe village, and at nine 
o'clock the whole of this strong position w^as in our 
hands, the brigade having sustained the extremely 
sUght casualties of three officers and thirty-four other 


ranks killed and wounded. So small a cost of life 
was a wonderful tribute to good and dashing leading, 
and furnished another example of cavalry's power 
when moving rapidly in extended formation. To 
the infinite regret of the brigade, indeed of the whole 
of General Allenby's Army, one of the officers killed 
that day was the Hon. Neil Primrose, an intrepid 
leader who, leaving the comfort and safety of a Minis- 
terial appointment, answered the call of duty to be 
with his squadron of the Bucks Hussars. He was a 
fine soldier and a favourite among his men, and he 
died as a good cavalryman would wish, shot through 
the head when leading his squadron in a glorious 
charge. His body rests in the garden of the French 
convent at Ramleh not far from the spot where 
humbler soldiers take their long repose, and these 
graves within visual range of the tomb of St. George, 
our patron saint, will stand as memorials of those 
Britons who forsook ease to obey the stern call of 
duty to their race and country. 

The overwhelming nature of this victory is illus- 
trated by a comparison of the losses on the two sides. 
Whereas ours were 37 all told, we counted between 
400 and 500 dead Turks on the field, and the enemy 
left with us 360 prisoners and some material. The 
extraordinary disparity between the losses can only 
be accounted for first by the care taken to lead the 
cavalry along every depression in the ground, and 
secondly by rapidity of movement. The cavalry 
were confronted by considerable shell fire, and the 
volume of machine-gun fire was heavy, though it 
was kept down a good deal by the covering fire of 
the 17th Machine Gun Squadron. 

I have referred to the importance of Jezar as 
dominating the approaches to Latron on the north- 
east and Ramleh on the north-west. Jezar, as we 


call it on our maps, has been a stronghold since men 
of aU races and creeds, coloured and white, Pagan, 
Mahomedan, Jew, and Christian, fought in Palestine. 
It is a spot which many a great leader of legions has 
coveted, and to its military history our home county 
yeomen have added another brilliant page. Let me 
quote the description of Jezar from George Adam 
Smith's Historical Geography of the Holy Land, a 
book of fascinating interest to all students of the 
Sacred History which many of the soldiers in 
General AUenby's Army read with great profit to 
themselves : 

' One point in the Northern Shephelah round which these 
tides of war have swept deserves special notice — Gezer, or 
Gazar. It is one of the few remarkable bastions which the 
Shephelah flings out to the west — on a ridge running towards 
Ramleh, the most prominent object in view of the traveller 
from JafiFa towards Jerusalem. It is high and isolated, but 
fertile and well watered — a very strong post and striking 
landmark. Its name occurs in the Egyptian correspondence 
of the fourteenth century, where it is described as being 
taken from the Egyptian vassals by the tribes whose in- 
vasion so agitates that correspondence. A city of the 
Canaanites, under a king of its own — Horam — Gezer is not 
given as one of Joshua's conquests, though the king is ; but 
the Israelites drave not out the Canaanites who dwelt at 
Gezer, and in the hands of these it remained till its conquest by 
Egypt when Pharaoh gave it , with his daughter, to Solomon and 
Solomon rebuilt it. Judas Maccabeus was strategist enough 
to gird himself early to the capture of Gezer, and Simon 
fortified it to cover the way to the harbour of Joppa and 
caused John his son, the captain of the host, to dwell there. 
It was virtually, therefore, the key of Judea at a time when 
Judea's foes came down the coast from the north ; and, with 
Joppa, it formed part of the Syrian demands upon the Jews. 
But this is by no means the last of it. M. Clermont Ganneau, 
who a number of years ago discovered the site, has lately 


identified Gezer with the Mont Gisart of the Crusades. Mont 
Gisart was a castle and feif in the county of Joppa, with an 
abbey of St. Katharine of Mont Gisart, "whose prior was one 
of the five suffragans of the Bishop of Lydda." It was the 
scene, on the 24th November 1174, seventeen years before 
the Third Crusade, of a victory won by a small army from 
Jerusalem under the boy-king, the leper Baldwin iv., against 
a very much larger army under Saladin himself, and, in 
1192, Saladin encamped upon it during his negotiations 
for a truce with Richard. 

' Shade of King Horam, what hosts of men have fallen 
round that citadel of yours. On what camps and columns 
has it looked down through the centuries, since first you saw 
the strange Hebrews burst with the sunrise across the hills, 
and chase your countrymen down Ajalon — that day when the 
victors felt the very sun conspiring with them to achieve the 
unexampled length of battle. Within sight of every Egyp- 
tian and every Assyrian invasion of the land, Gezer has also 
seen Alexander pass by, and the legions of Rome in unusual 
flight, and the armies of the Cross struggle, waver and give 
way, and Napoleon come and go. If all could rise who have 
fallen around its base — Ethiopians, Hebrews, Assyrians, 
Arabs, Turcomans, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Saxons, Mongols 
— what a rehearsal of the Judgment Day it would be. Few 
of the travellers who now rush across the plain realise that 
the first conspicuous hill they pass in Palestine is also one 
of the most thickly haunted — even in that narrow land into 
which history has so crowded itself. But upon the ridge 
of Gezer no sign of all this now remains, except in the Tel 
Jezer, and in a sweet hollow to the north, beside a fountain, 
where lie the scattered Christian stone of Deir Warda, the 
Convent of the Rose. 

' Up none of the other valleys of the Shephelah has history 
surged as up and down Ajalon and past Gezer, for none are 
so open to the north, nor present so easy a passage to 



The Aiizac Mounted Division had only the 1st 
Austrahan Light Horse and the New Zealand 
Mounted Rifles Brigade operating with it on the 
I4th. The Australians, by the evening, were in 
the thick olive groves on the south of Ramleh, and 
on the ridges about Surafend. On their left the 
Turks were violently opposing the New Zealanders 
who were working along the sand-dunes with the 
port and town of Jaffa as their ultimate objective. 
There was one very fierce struggle in the course of 
the day. A force attacked a New Zealand regiment 
m great strength and for the moment secured the 
advantage, but the regiment got to grips with the 
enemy with hand-grenades and bayonets, and so 
completely repulsed them that they fled in hopeless 
disorder leavmg many dead and wounded behind 
them. It was unfortunate that there was no mobile 
reserve available for pursuit, as the Turks were in 
such a pUght that a large number would have been 
rounded up. General Cox's brigade seized Ramleh 
on the morning of the 15th, taking ninety prisoners, 
and then advanced and captured Ludd, being careful 
that no harm should come to the building which 
holds the grave of St. George. In Ludd 360 prisoners 
were taken, and the brigade carried out a good deal 
of demohtion work on the railway rumiing north. 
The New Zealanders made Jaffa by noon on the 16th, 
the Turks evacuating the town during the morning 



without making any attempt to destroy it, though 
there was one gross piece of vandahsm in a Christian 
cemetery where monuments and tombstones had 
been thrown down and broken. In the meantime, 
in order to protect the rear of the infantry, five bat- 
tahons of the 52nd Division with three batteries 
were stationed at Yebnah, Mughar, and Akir until 
they could be relieved by units of the 54th Division 
advancing from Gaza. To enable the 54th to move, 
the transport lent to the 52nd and 75th Divisions had 
to be returned, which did not make the supply of 
those divisions any easier. The main line of railway 
was still a long way in the rear, and the landing of 
stores by the Navy at the mouth of the wadi Sukereir 
had not yet begun. A little later, and before Jaffa 
had been made secure enough for the use of ships, 
many thousands of tons of supplies and ammunition 
were put ashore at the wadi's mouth, and at a time 
when heavy rains damaged the newly constructed 
railway tracks the Sukereir base of supply was an 
inestimable boon. Yet there were times when the 
infantry had a bare day's supply with them, though 
they had their iron rations to fall back upon. It 
speaks weU for the supply branch that in the long 
forward move of XXIst Corps the infantry were 
never once put on short rations. 

While the 54th were coming up to take over from 
the 52nd, plans were prepared for the further advance 
on Jerusalem. The Commander-in-Chief was deeply 
anxious that there should be no fighting of any 
description near the Holy Places, and he gave the 
Turks a chance of being chivalrous and of accepting 
the inevitable. We had got so far that the ancient 
routes taken by armies which had captured Jerusalem 
were just before us. The Turkish forces were dis- 
organised by heavy and repeated defeats, the men 


demoralised and not in good condition, and there was 
no hope for them that they could receive sufficient 
reinforcements to enable them to stave off the ulti- 
mate capture of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, though 
as events proved they could still put up a stout 
defence. W^e loiow from papeis taken from the 
enemy that the Turks beheved General Allenby 
intended to go right up the plain to get to the defile 
leading to Messudieh and Nablus and thus threaten 
the Hedjaz railway, in which case the position of 
the enemy in the Holy City would be hopeless, 
and the Turks formed an assault group of three 
infantry divisions in the neighbourhood of Tul Keram 
to prevent this, and continued to hold on to Jerusalem. 
General Allenby proposed to strike through the hills 
to the north-east to try to get across the Jerusalem- 
Nablus road about Bireli (the ancient Beeroth), and 
in this operation success would have enabled him to 
cut off the enemy forces in and about the Holy City, 
when their only hne of retreat would have been 
through Jericho and the east of the Jordan. The 
Turks decided to oppose this plan and to make us 
fight for Jerusalem. That was disappointing, but 
in the end it could not have suited us better, for it 
showed to our own people and to the world how after 
the Turks had declined an opportunity of showing 
a desire to preserve the Holy Places from attack — 
an opportunity prompted by our strength, not by 
any fear that victory could not be won — General 
Allenby was still able to achieve his great objective 
without a diop of blood being spilled near any of the 
Holy Sites, and without so much as a stray rifle 
bullet searing any of their walls. That indeed was 
the triumph of military practice, and when Jerusalem 
fell for the twenty-third time, and thus for the first 
time passed into the hands of British soldiers, the 


whole force felt that the sacrifices which had been 
made on the gaunt forbidding hills to the north-west 
were worth the price, and that the graves of English- 
man, Scot and Colonial, of Gurkha, Punjabi, and 
Sikh, were monuments to the honour of British arms. 
The scheme was that the 75th Division would 
advance along the main Jerusalem road, which cuts 
into the hills about three miles east of Latron, and 
occupy Kuryet el Enab, and that the Lowland 
Division should go through Ludd, strike eastwards 
and advance to Beit Likia to turn from the north 
the hills through which the road passes, the Yeo- 
manry Mounted Division on the left flank of the 
52nd Division to press on to Bireh, on the Nablus 
road about a dozen miles north of Jerusalem. A 
brief survey of the country to be attacked would 
convince even a civihan of the extreme difficulties 
of the undertaking. North and east of Latron 
(which was not yet ours) frown the hills which con- 
stitute this important section of the Judean range, 
the backbone of Palestine. The hills are steep and 
high, separated one from another by narrow valleys, 
clothed here and there with fir and olive trees, but 
elsewhere a mass of rocks and boulders, bare and in- 
hospitable. Practically every hill commands another. 
There is only one road — the main one — and this about 
three miles east of Latron passes up a narrow defile 
with rugged mountains on either side. There is an 
old Roman road to the north, but, unused for cen- 
turies, it is now a road only in name, the very trace 
of it being lost in many places. In this strong 
country men fought of old, and the defenders not 
infrequently held their own against odds. It is 
pre-eminently suitable for defence, and if the warriors 
of the past found that flint-tipped shafts of wood 
would keep the invader at bay, how much more 


easily could a modern army equipped with rifles of 
precision and machine guns adapt Nature to its 
advantage ? It will always be a marvel to me how 
in a country where one machine gun in defence 
could hold up a battalion, we made such rapid pro- 
gress, and how having got so deep into the range it 
was possible for us to feed our front. We had no 
luck with the weather. In advancing over the plain 
the troops had suffered from the abnormal heat, 
and many of the w^ells had been destroyed or damaged 
by the retreating enemy. In the hills the troops 
had to endure heavy rains and piercingly cold winds, 
with mud a foot deep on the roads and the earth so 
slippery on the hills that only donkey transport was 
serviceable. Yet despite all adverse circumstances 
the infantry and yeomanry pressed on, and if they 
did not secure all objectives, their dash, resource, 
and magnificent determmation at least paved the 
way for ultimate triumph. 

To the trials of hard fighting and marching on field 
rations the wet added a severe test of physical en- 
durance. The troops were m enemy country where 
they scrupulously avoided every native village, and 
no wall or roof stood to shelter them from wind or 
water. The heat of the first two weeks of November 
changed with a most undesirable suddenness, and 
though the days continued agreeably warm on the 
plain into December, the nights became chilly and 
then desperately cold. The single blanket carried 
in the pack — most of the mfantry on the march had 
no blanket at all — did not give sufficient warmth 
to men whose blood had been thinned by long months 
of work imder a pitiless Eastern sun, and lucky was 
the soldier who secured even broken sleep in the 
early morning hours of that fighting march across 
the northern part of the Maritime Plain. The 


Generals, with one eye on the enemy and the other 
on the weather, must have been dismayed in the 
third week of November at the gathering storm 
clouds which in bursting flooded the plain with rains 
unusually heavy for this period of the year. The 
surface is a very light cotton soil several feet deep. 
When baked by summer sun it has a cracked hard 
crust giving a firm foothold for man and horse, and 
yielding only shghtly to the wheels of light cars ; 
even laden lorries made easy tracks over the country. 
The lorries generally kept off the ill-made unrolled 
Turkish road which had been constructed for winter 
use and, except for slight deviations to avoid wadis 
and gullies cut by Nature to carry off surplus water, 
the supply columns could move in almost as direct 
a course as the flying men. When the heavens 
opened all this was altered. The first storm turned 
the top into a slippery, greasy mass. In an hour 
or two the rain soaked down into the light earth, 
and any lorry driver pulling out of the line to avoid 
a skidding vehicle ahead, had the almost certainty 
of finding his car and load come to a fuU stop with 
the wheels held fast axle deep in the soft soil. An 
hour's hard digging, the fixing of planks beneath 
the wheels, and a towing cable from another lorry 
sometimes got the machine on to the pressed-down 
track again and enabled it to move ahead for a few 
miles, but many were the supply vehicles that had 
to wait for a couple of sunny days to dry a path for 

My own experience of the first of the winter rains 
was so like that of others in the force who moved 
on wheels that I may give some idea of the conditions 
by recounting it. We had taken Ludd and Ramleh, 
and guided by the ruined tower of the Church of 
the Forty Martyrs I had foUowed in the cavalry's 


wake. I dallied on the way back to see if Akir 
presented to the latter-day Crusader any signs of 
its former strength when it stood as the Philistine 
stronghold of Ekron. Near where the old city had 
been the ghastly sight of Turks cut down by yeo- 
manry during a hot pursuit offended the senses of 
sight and smell, and when you saw natives moving 
towards their village at a rate somewhat in excess of 
their customary shuffling gait you were almost led to 
think that their superstitious fears were driving them 
home before sundown lest darkness should raise the 
ghosts of the Turkish dead. A few of the Jewish 
settlers, whose industry has improved the landscape, 
were leaving the fields and orchards they tended so 
well, though there was still more than an hour of 
daylight and their tasks were not yet done. They 
were weatherwise. They could have been deaf to the 
rumblings in the south and still have noticed the 
coming of the storm. I was some forty miles from 
the spot at which my despatch could be censored 
and passed over land wire and cable to London, 
when a vivid lightning flash warned me that the 
elements were in forbidding mood and that I had 
misread the obvious signal of the natives' homeward 

The map showed a path from Akir through Man- 
sura towards Junction Station, from which the so- 
caUed Turkish road ran south. In the gathering 
gloom my driver picked up wheel tracks through an 
ohve orchard and, crossing a nullah, found the marks 
of a Ford car's wheels on the other side. The rain 
fell heavily and soon obliterated all signs of a car's 
progress, and with darkness coming on there was a 
prospect of a shivering night with a wet skin in the 
open. An Australian doctor going up to his regiment 
at grips with the Turk told me that he had no doubt 


we were on the right road, for he had been given a 
Hne through Mansura, which must be the farmhouse 
ahead of us. These AustraUans have a keen nose 
for country and you have a sense of security in 
following them. The doctor's horse was shpping 
in the mud, but my car made even worse going. It 
skidded to right and left, and only by the skill and 
coolness of my driver was I saved a ducking in a 
narrow wadi now full of storm water. After much 
low-gear work we pulled up a slight rise and saw ahead 
of us one or two little fires. Under the lee of a dilapi- 
dated wall some Scottish infantry were brewing tea 
and making the most of a slight shelter. It was Man- 
sura, and if we bore to the right and kept the track 
beaten down by lorries across a field we might, by 
the favour of fortune, reach Junction Station during 
the night. The Scots had arranged a bivouac in that 
field before it became sodden. They knew how bad 
it had got, and a native instinct to be hospitable 
prompted an invitation to share the fire for the night. 
However, I^ondon was waiting for news and I decided 
to press on. The road could not be worse than the 
sea of mud in which I was floundering, and it might 
be better. We turned right-handed and after a 
struggle came up against three lorry drivers hope- 
lessly marooned. They had turned in. Up a greasy 
bank we came to a stop and slid back. We tried 
again and failed. I relieved the car of my weight 
and made an effort to push it from behind, but my 
feet held fast in the mud and the car cannoned into 
me when it skidded downhill. ' Better give it up till 
the morning,' said an M.T. driver whose sleep was 
disturbed by the running of our engine. ' Can't ? 
Who 've you got there ? Eh ? Oh, very well. Here, 
Jim, give them a hand or we '11 have no sleep to-night ' 
— or words to that effect. Three of the lorry men 


and the engine got us on the move, and before 
they took mud back with them to the dry interiors 
of the lorries they hoped, they said, that we would 
reach G.H.Q., but declared that it was hopeless 
to try. 

Before getting much farther a light, waved ahead 
of us, told of some one held up. I walked on and 
found General Butler, the chief of the Army Veteri- 
nary Service with the Force, unable to move an 
inch. The efforts of two drivers failed to locate the 
trouble, and everything removable was taken off 
the General's car and put into ours, and with the 
heavier load we started off again for Junction Station. 
This was not difficult to pick up, for there were many 
flares burning to enable working parties to repair 
engines, rolling stock, and permanent way. We got 
on to the road ultimately, carrying more mud on our 
feet than I imagined human legs could lift. Leaving 
a driver and all spare gear at the station, we thrashed 
our way along a road metalled with a soft, friable 
hmestone which had been cut into by the iron-shod 
wheels of German lorries until the ruts were fully a 
foot deep, and the soft earth foundation was oozing 
through to the surface. It was desperately hard to 
steer a course on this treacherous highway, and a 
number of lorries we passed had gone temporarily 
out of action in ditches. The Germans with the 
Turks had blown up most of the culverts, and the 
road bridges which had been destroyed had only been 
lightly repaired with planks and trestles, no safety 
rails being in position. To negotiate these dangerous 
paths in the dark the driver had to put on all possible 
speed and make a dash for it, and he usually got to 
the other side before a skid became serious. Most of 
the lorry drivers put out no light because they thought 
no car would be able to move on such a night, and we 


had several narrow escapes of finishing our career 
on a half-sunken supply motor vehicle. 

Reinforcements for infantry battalions moved up 
the road as we came down it. They were going to 
the front to take the place of casualties, for weather 
and mud are not considered when bayonets are wanted 
in the line. So the stolid British infantryman splashed 
and slipped his way towards the enemy, and he would 
probably have been sleeping that night if there had 
not been a risk of his drowning in the mud. The 
Camel Transport Corps fought the elements with a 
courage which deserved better luck. The camel dis- 
likes many things and is afraid of some. But if he 
is capable of thinking at all he regards mud as his 
greatest enemy. He cannot stand up in it, and if he 
slips he has not an understanding capable of realising 
that if all his feet do not go the same way he must 
spread-eagle and split up. This is what often happens, 
but if by good luck a camel should go down sideways 
he seems quite content to stay there, and he is so 
refractory that he prefers to die rather than help 
himself to his feet again. On this wild night I had 
a good opportunity of seeing white officers encourage 
the Egyptian boys in the Camel Transport Corps. 
At Julis the roadway passes through the village. 
There was an ambulance column in difficulties in the 
village, and while some cars were being extricated a 
camel supply column came up in the opposite direc- 
tion. The camels liked neither the headlights nor 
the running engines, and thesu had to be made dark 
and silent before they would pass. The water was 
running over the roadway several inches deep, 
carrying with it a mass of garbage and filth which 
only Arab villagers would tolerate. Officers and 
Gyppies coaxed and wheedled the stubborn beasts 
through Julis, but outside the place the animals 


raised a chorus of protest and went down. They 
held me up for an hour or more, and though officers 
and boys did their utmost to get them going again 
it was a fruitless effort, and the poor beasts were off- 
loaded where they lay. That night of rain and 
thunder, wind and cold, was bad alike for man and 
beast, but beyond a flippant remark of some soldier 
doing his best and the curious chant of the Gyppies' 
chorus you heard nothing. Tommy could not trust 
himself to talk about the weather. It was too bad 
for words, for even the strongest. 

It took our car ten hours to run forty miles, and as 
the last ten miles was over wet sand and on rabbit 
wire stretched across the sand where the car could 
do fifteen miles an hour, we had averaged something 
under three miles an hour through the mud. Wet 
through, cold, with a face rendered painful to the 
touch by driven rain, I reached my tent with a feeling 
of thankfulness for myself and deep sympathy for 
the tens of thousands of brave boys enduring intense 
discomfort and fatigue, coupled with the fear of 
short rations for the next day or two. The men in 
the hills which they were just entering had a worse 
time than those in the waterlogged plain, but no 
storms could damp their enthusiasm. They were 
beating your enemies and mine, and they were 
facing a goal which Britain had never yet won. 
Jerusalem the Golden was before them, and the 
honour and glory of wimiing it from the Turk was 
a prize to attain which no sacrifice was too great. 
Those who did not say so behaved in a way to show 
that they felt it. They were very gallant, perfect 
knights, these soldiers of the King. 



When the 52nd Division were moving out of Ludd 
on the 19th November the 75th Division were fighting 
hard about Latron, where the Turks held the monas- 
tery and its beautiful gardens and the hill about 
Amwas until late in the morning. Having driven 
them out, the 75th pushed on to gain the pass into 
the hills and to begin two days of fighting which 
earned the unstinted praise of General Bulfin who 
witnessed it. For nearly three miles from Latron the 
road passes through a flat vaUey flanked by hills till 
it reaches a guardhouse and khan at the foot of the 
pass which then rises rapidly to Saris, the difference 
in elevation in less than four miles being 1400 feet. 
Close to the guardhouse begin the hills which tower 
above the road. The Turks had constructed de- 
fences on these hills and held them with riflemen and 
machine guns, so that these positions dominated all 
approaches. Our guns had few positions from which 
to assist the infantry, but they did sterlmg service 
wherever possible. In General Palin the Division 
had a commander with wide experience of hill fight- 
ing on the Indian frontier, and he brought that 
experience to bear in a way which must have dumb- 
founded the enemy. Frontal attacks were impossible 
and suicidal, and each position had to be turned by 
a wide movement started a long way in rear. All 
units in the Division did well, the Gurkhas particu- 
larly well, and by a continual encircling of their flanks 



the Turks were compelled to leave their fastnesses 
and fall back to new hill crests. Thus outwitted 
and outmatched the enemy retreated to Saris, a 
high hill with a commanding view of the pass for 
half a mile. The hill is covered with olive trees and 
has a village on its eastern slope, and as the road 
winds at its foot and then takes a left-handed turn 
to Kur^^et el Enab its value for defence was con- 

Tlie Turks had taken advantage of the cover to 
place a large body of defenders with machine guns 
on the hill, but with every condition unfavourable 
to us the 75th Division had routed out the enemy 
before three o'clock and w^ere ready to move forward 
as soon as the guns could get up the pass. Rain 
was falling heavily, the road surface was clinging 
and treacherous, and, worse still, the road had been 
blown up in several places. The guns could not 
advance to be of service that day, and the infantry 
had, therefore, to remain where they were for the 
night. There was a good deal of sniping, but Nature 
was more unkind than the enemy, who received more 
than he gave. The troops were wearing hght summer 
clothing, drill shorts and tunics, and the sudden 
change from the heat and dryness of the plain to 
bitter cold and wet was a desperate trial, especially 
to the Indian units, who had httle sleep that night. 
They needed rest to prepare them for the rigour of 
the succeeding day. A drenching rain turned the 
whole face of the mountains, where earth covered rock, 
into a sea of mud. On the positions about Saris 
being searched a number of prisoners were taken, 
among them a battalion commander. Men captured 
in the morning told us there were six Turkish bat- 
tahons holding Enab, which is something under two 
miles from Saris. 


The road proceeds up a rise from Saris, then falling 
slightly it passes below the crest of a ridge and again 
climbs to the foot of a hill on which a red-roofed 
convent church and buildings stand as a landmark 
that can be seen from Jaffa. On the opposite side 
of the road is a substantial house, the summer re- 
treat of the German Consul in Jerusalem, whose 
staff traded in Jordan Holy Water ; and this house, 
now empty, sheltered a divisional general from the 
bad weather while the operations for the capture of 
the Holy City were in preparation. I have a grateful 
recollection of this building, for in it the military 
attaches and I stayed before the Official Entry into 
Jerusalem, and its roof saved us from one inclement 
night on the bleak hiUs. On the 20th November 
the Turks did their best to keep the place under 
German ownership. The hill on which it stands 
was well occupied by men under cover of thick stone 
waUs, the convent gardens on the opposite side of 
the highway was packed with Turkish infantry, 
and across the deep valley to the west were guns 
and riflemen on another hill, all of them holding the 
road under the best possible observation. The 
enemy's howitzers put down a heavy barrage on all 
approaches, and on the reverse of the hill covering 
the village lying in the hollow there were machine 
guns and many men. Reconnaissances showed the 
difficulties attending an attack, and it was not until 
the afternoon that a plan was ready to be put into 
execution. No weak points in the defences could 
be discovered, and just as it seemed possible that a 
dayUght attack would be held up, a thick mist roUed 
up the valley and settled down over Enab. The 2/3rd 
Gurkhas seized a welcomed opportunity, and as the 
light was failing the shrill, sharp notes of these gallant 
hillmen and the deep - throated roar of the l/5th 


Somersets told that a weighty bayonet charge had 
got home, and that the keys of the enemy position 
had been won. The men of the bold 75th went 
beyond Enab in the dark, and also out along the old 
Roman road towards Biddu to deny the Turks a 
point from which they could see the road as it fell 
away from the Enab ridge towards the wadi Ikbala. 
That night many men sought the doubtful shelter of 
olive groves, and built stone sangars to break the 
force of a biting wind. A few, as many as could be 
accommodated, were welcomed by the monks in a 
monastery in a fold in the hills, whilst some rested and 
were thankful in a cr3rpt beneath the monks' church, 
the oldest part of the building, beheved to be the 
work of sixth-century masons. The monks had a 
tale of woe to tell. They had been proud to have 
as their guest the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, 
who was a French protege, and this high ecclesiastic 
remained at the monastery till November 17, when 
Turkish gendarmerie carried him away. The Spanish 
Consul in Jerusalem lodged a vigorous protest, and, 
so the monks were told, he was supported by the 
German Commandant. But to no purpose, for when 
General Allenby entered Jerusalem he learned that 
the Latin Patriarch had been removed to Damascus. 
For quite a long time the monks did many kindly 
things for our troops. They gave up the greater 
part of the monastery and church for use as a hospital, 
and many a sick man was brought back to health 
by rest within those ancient walls. Some, alas, 
there were whose wounds were mortal, and a number 
lie in the monks' secluded garden. They have set 
up wooden crosses over them, and we may be certain 
that in that quiet sequestered spot their remains 
will rest in peace and will have the protection of 
the monks as surely as it has been given to the grave 



of the Roman centurion which faces those of our 
brave boys who fell on the same soil fighting the same 
good fight. 

Wliile the 75th Division were making their mag- 
nificent effort at Enab the Lowlanders had breasted 
other and equally difficult hills to the north. General 
Hill had posted a strong force at Beit Likia, and then 
moved south-east along the route prepared by Cestius 
Gallus nearly 1900 years ago to the height of Beit 
Anan, and thence east again to Beit Dukku. On the 
21st the road and ground near it were in exceedingly 
bad condition, and the difficulty of moving anything 
on wheels along it could hardly have been greater. 
Already the 52nd Division had realised it was hope- 
less to get all their divisional artillery into action, 
and only three sections of artillery were brought up, 
the horses of the guns sent back to Ramleh being 
used to double the teams in the three advanced 
sections. It was heavy work, too, for infantry who 
not only had to carry the weight of mud-caked 
boots, but were handicapped by continual shpping 
upon the rocky ground. The 75th advancing along 
the road from Enab to Kustul got an idea of the 
Turkish lack of attention to the highway, the main 
road being deep in mud and full of dangerous ruts. 
They won Kustul about midday, and officers who 
cUmbed to the top got their first glimpse of the out- 
skirts of Jerusalem from the ruined walls of a Roman 
castle that gives its name to the little village perched 
on the height. They did not, however, see much 
beyond the Syrian colony behind the main Turkish 
defences, and the first view of Jerusalem by the troops 
of the British Army was obtained by General Mac- 
lean's brigade when they advanced from Biddu to 
Nebi Samwil, that crowning height on which many 
centuries before Richard the Lion Heart buried his 


face in his casque and exclaimed : ' Lord God, I pray- 
that I may never see Thy Holy City, if so be that I 
may not rescue it from the hands of Thine enemies.' 

Wliat a fight it was for Nebi Samwil ! The Turk 
had made it his advanced work for his main line 
runnmg from El Jib through Bir Nabala, Beit Iksa 
to Lifta, as strong a chain of entrenched mountains 
as any commander could desire. General Maclean's 
brigade advanced from Biddu along the side of a 
ridge and up the exposed steep slope of Nebi Samwil, 
not all of which, in the only direction he could select 
for an advance, was terraced, as it was on the Turks' 
side. He was all the time confronted by heavy 
artillery and rifle fire, and, though supported by guns 
firing at long range from the neighbourhood of Enab, 
he could not make Nebi Samwil in daylight. Round 
the top of the hill the Turk had dug deeply into the 
stony earth. He knew the value of that hill. From 
its crest good observation was obtained in all direc- 
tions, and if, when we had to attack the main Jeru- 
salem defences on December 8, the summit of Nebi 
Samwil had still been in Turkish hands, not a move- 
ment of troops as they issued from the bed of the 
wadi Surar and climbed the rough face of the western 
buttresses of Jerusalem would have escaped notice. 
The brigade won the hill and held it just before mid- 
night, but the battle for the crest ebbed and flowed 
for days with terrific violence, w^e never giving up 
possession of it, though it was stormed again and 
again by an enemy who, it is fair to admit, displayed 
fine courage and not a little skill. That hill-top at 
this period had to submit to a thunderous bombard- 
ment, and the Mosque of Nebi Samwil became a 
battered shell. Here are supposed to he the remains 
of the Prophet Samuel. The tradition may or may 
not be well founded, but at any rate Mahomedans 


and Christians alike have held the place in venera- 
tion for centuries. The Turk paid no regard to the 
sanctity of the Mosque, and, as it was of military 
importance to him that we should not hold it, he 
sheUed it daily with all his available guns, utterly 
destroying it. There may be cases where the Turks 
will deny that they damaged a Holy Place. They 
could not hide their guilt on Nebi Samwil. I was at 
pains to examine the Mosque and the immediate 
surroundings, and the photographs I took are proof 
that the wreckage of this church came from artillery 
fired from the east and north, the direction of the 
Turkish gmi-pits. It is possible we are apt to be a 
little too sentimental about the destruction in war of 
a place of worship. If a general has reason to think 
that a tower or minaret is being used as an observa- 
tion post, or that a church or mosque is sheltering 
a body of troops, there are those who hold that he 
is justified in deliberately planning its destruction, 
but here was a sacred building with associations 
held in reverence by aU classes and creeds in a land 
where these things are counted high, and to have 
set about wrecking it was a crime. The German 
influence over the Turk asserted itseK, as it did in 
the heavy fighting after we had taken Jerusalem. 
We had batteries on the Mount of Olives and the 
Turk searched for them, but they never fired one 
round at the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria Hospice 
near by. That had been used as Falkenha3ni's 
headquarters. General Chetwode occupied it as his 
Corps Headquarters soon after he entered Jerusalem. 
There was a wireless installation and the Turks could 
see the coming and going of the Corps' motor cars. 
I have watched operations from a summer-house in 
the gardens, and no enemy plane could pass over 
the building without discovering the purpose to 


which it was put. And there were spies. But not 
one shell fell within the precincts of the hospice 
because it was a German building, containing the 
statues of the Kaiser and Kaiserin, and (oh, the taste 
of the Hun !) with effigies of the Kaiser and his consort 
painted in the roof of the chapel not far from a picture 
of the Saviour. Britam is rebuilding what the Turks 
destro3^ed, and there will soon arise on Nebi Samwil 
a new mosque to show Mahomedans that tolerance 
and freedom abide under our flag. 

\Mien the 75th Division were making the attack 
on Nebi Samwil the 52nd Division put all the men 
they could spare on to the task of making roads. 
To be out of the firing line did not mean rest. In fact, 
as far as physical exertion went, it was easier to be 
fighting than in reserve. From sunrise till dark and 
often later the roadmakers were at work with pick, 
shovel, and crowbar, and the tools were not too many 
for the job. The gunners joined in the work and 
managed to take their batteries over the roads long 
before they were considered suitable for other wheels. 
The battery commanders sometimes selected firing 
positions which appeared quite inaccessible to any one 
save a mountain climber, but the guns got there and 
earned much credit for their teams. 

On the 22nd Nebi Samwil was thrice attacked. 
British and Indian troops were holding the hill, 
but the Turks were on the northern slopes. They 
were, in fact, on strong positions on three sides, and 
from El Burj, a prominent hill 1200 yards to the 
south-east, and from the wooded valley of the wadi 
Hannina, they could advance with plenty of cover. 
There was much dead ground, stone walls enclosed 
small patches of cultivation, and when troops halted 
under the terraces on the slopes no gun or rifle fire 
could reach them. The enemy could thus get quite 


close to our positions before we could deal with them, 
and their attacks were also favoured by an intense 
volume of artillery Bie from 5'9's placed about the 
Jerusalem-Nablus road and, as some people in Jeru- 
salem afterwards told me, from the Mount of Olives. 
The attackers possessed the advantage that our guns 
could not concentrate on them while the attack was 
preparing, and could only put in a torrent of fire when 
the enemy infantry were getting near their goal. 
These three attacks were delivered with the utmost 
ferocity, and were pressed home each time with de- 
termination. But the 75th Division held on with 
a stubbornness which was beyond praise, and the 
harder the Turk tried to reach the summit the tighter 
became the defence. Each attack was repulsed with 
very heavy losses, and after his third failure the 
enemy did not put in his infantry again that day. 

The 75th Division endeavoured to reach El Jib, 
a village on the hill a mile and a half to the north of 
Nebi Samwil. The possession of El Jib by us would 
have attracted some of the enemy opposing the 
advance of the Yeomanry Mounted Division on the 
left, but not only was the position strongly defended 
in the village and on the high ground on the north 
and north-west, but our infantry could not break 
down the opposition behind the sangars and boulders 
on the northern side of Nebi Samwil. The attack 
had to be given up, but we made some progress in 
this mountainous sector, as the 52nd Division had 
pushed out from Dukku to Beit Izza, between 3000 
and 4000 yards from El Jib, and by driving the enemy 
from this strong village they made it more comfort- 
able for the troops in Biddu and protected the Nebi 
Samwil flank, the securing of which in those days 
of bitter fighting was an important factor. It was 
evident from what was happening on this front. 


not only where two divisions of infantry had to strain 
every nerve to hold on to what they had got but 
where the Yeomanry JNlounted Division were batthng 
against enormous odds in the worse coimtry to the 
north-west, that the Turks were not going to allow 
us to get to the Nablus road without making a direct 
attack on the Jerusalem defences. They out- 
numbered ua, had a large preponderance in guns, 
were near their base, and enjoyed the advantage 
of prepared positions and a comparatively easy 
access to supplies and ammunition. Everything was 
in their favour down to the very state of the weather. 
But our army struggled on against all the big obstacles. 
On the 23rd the 75th Division renewed their attack 
on El Jib, but although the men showed the dash 
which throughout characterised the Division, it had 
to be stopped. The garrison of El Jib had been 
reinforced, and the enemy held the woods, wadi 
banks, and sangars in greater strength than before, 
while the artillery fire was extremely heavy. Not 
only w^as the 75th Division tired with ceaseless 
fighting, but the losses they had sustained since 
they left the Plain of Ajalon had been substantial, 
and the 52nd Division took over from them that 
night to prepare for another effort on the following 
day. The Scots were no more successful. They 
made simultaneous attacks on the northern and 
southern ends of Nebi Samwil, and a brigade worked 
up from Beit Izza to a ridge north-west of El Jib. 
Two magnificent attempts were made to get into 
the enemy's positions, but they failed. The officer 
casualties were heavy ; some companies had no 
officers, and the troops were worn out by great 
exertions and privations in the bleak hills. The two 
divisions had been fighting hard for over three weeks, 
they had marched long distances on hard food. 


which at the finish was not too plentiful, and the 
sudden violent change in the weather conditions 
made it desirable that the men should get to an issue 
of warmer clothing. General Bulfin reahsed it would 
be risking heavy losses to ask his troops to make 
another immediate effort against a numerically 
stronger enemy in positions of his own choice, and 
he therefore applied to General Allenby that the 
XXth Corps — the 60th Division was already at 
Latron attached to the XXIst Corps — might take 
over the line. The Commander-in-Chief that even- 
ing ordered the attack on the enemy's positions to 
be discontinued until the arrival of fresh troops. 
During the next day or two the enemy's artillery 
was as active as hitherto, but the punishment he 
had received in his attacks made him pause, and there 
were only small haK-hearted attempts to reach our 
line. They were aU beaten off by infantry fire, 
and the reliefs of the various brigades of the XXIst 
Corps were complete by November 28. It had not 
been given to the XXIst Corps to obtain the dis- 
tinction of driving the Turks for ever from Jerusalem, 
but the work of the Corps in the third and fourth 
weeks of November had laid the foundation on which 
victory finally rested. The grand efforts of the 
52nd and 75th Divisions in rushing over the foothills 
of the Shephelah on to the Judean heights, in getting 
a footing on some of the most prominent hills within 
three days of leaving the plain, and in holding on 
with grim tenacity to what they had gained, enabled 
the Commander-in-Chief to start on a new plan by 
which to take the Holy City in one stride, so to speak. 
The 52nd and 75th Divisions and, as wiU be seen, 
the Yeomanry Mounted Division as well, share the 
glory of the capture of Jerusalem with the 53rd, 
60th, and 74th Divisions who were in at the finish. 


The fighting of the Yeomanry Mounted Division 
on the left of the 52nd was part and parcel of the 
XXIst Corps' effort to get to the Nablus road. It 
was epic fighting, and I have not described it when 
narrating the infantry's daily work because it is 
best told in a connected story. If the foot sloggers 
had a bad time, the conditions were infinitely worse 
for mounted troops. The ground was as steep, but 
the hillsides were rougher, the wadis narrower, the 
patches of open flat fewer than in the districts where 
infantry operated. So bad indeed was the country 
that horses were an encumbrance, and most of them 
were returned to the plain. After a time horse 
artillery could proceed no farther, and the only guns 
the yeomanry had with them were those of a section 
of the Hong Kong and Singapore mountain battery, 
manned by Sildis, superb fellows whose service in 
the Eg3rptian deserts and in Palestine was worthy 
of a martial race. But their little guns w^ere out- 
ranged by the Turkish artillery, and though they 
were often right up with the mounted men they could 
not get near the enem}^ batteries. The supply of 
the division in the nooks and crannies where there 
was not so much as a goat-path was a desperate 
problem, and could not have been solved without 
the aid of many hundreds of pack-donkeys which 
dumped their loads of supplies and ammunition on 
the hiUsides, leaving it to be carried forward by hand. 
The division were fighting almost continually for a 
fortnight. They got farther forward than the in- 
fantry and met the full force of an opposition which, 
if not stronger than that about Nebi Samwil, w^as 
extremely violent, and they came back to a line 
which could be supplied with less difficulty when it 
was apparent that the Turks were not going to accept 
the opportunity General Allenby gave them to 


withdraw their army from Jerusalem. The Division's 
most bitter struggle was about the Beth-horons, 
on the very scene w^here Joshua, on a lengthened 
day, threw the Canaanites off the Shephelah. 

The Yeomanry Mounted Division received orders 
on the afternoon of November 17 to move across 
Ajalon into the foothills and to press forward straight 
on Bireh as rapidly as possible. Their trials they 
began immediately. One regiment of the 8th Brigade 
occupied Annabeh, and a regiment of the 22nd 
Brigade got within a couple of miles of Nalin, where a 
weU-concealed body of the enemy held it up. Soon 
the report came in that the country was impassable 
for wheels. By the afternoon of the next day the 
8th Brigade were at Beit ur el Foka — Beth-horon 
the Upper — a height where fig trees and pomegranates 
flourish. Eastwards the country faUs away and 
there are several ragged narrow valleys between 
some tree-topped ridges till the eye meets a sheikh's 
tomb on the Zeitun ridge, standing midway between 
Foka and Beitunia, which rears a proud and pictur- 
esque head to bar the way to Bireh. The wadis 
cross the valleys wherever torrent water can tear up 
rock, but the yeomanry found their beds smoother 
going, filled though they were with boulders, than the 
hill slopes, which generally rose in steep gradients 
from the sides of watercourses. During every step 
of the way across this saw-toothed country one 
appreciated to the full the defenders' advantage. If 
dead ground hid you from one hill- top enemy marks- 
men could get you from another, and it was impos- 
sible for the division to proceed unless it got the 
enemy out of all the hills on its line of advance. 
The infantry on the right were very helpful, but the 
brigade on the left flank had many difficulties, which 
were not lessened when, on the second day of the 


movement, all Royal Horse Artillery gmis and all 
wheels had to be sent back owing to the bad comitry. 
Up to this point the fight against Natm^e was more 
arduous than against the enemy. Thenceforward 
the enemy became more vigilant and active, and the 
hills and stony hollows more trying. All available 
men were set to work to makey a road for the Hong 
Kong and Singapore gunners, a battery which would 
always get as far into the momitains as any in the 
King's Army. The road parties laboured night and 
day, but it was only by the greatest exertions that 
the battery could be got through. The heavy rain 
of the 19th added to the troubles. The 8th Brigade, 
having occupied Beit ur et Tahta (Beth-horon the 
Lower) early on the morning of the 19th, proceeded 
along the wadi Sunt imtil a force on the heights 
held them up, and they had to remain in the wadi 
while the 6th Mounted Brigade turned the enemy's 
flank at Foka. The 22nd Mounted Brigade on the 
north met with the same trouble — every hill had to 
be won and picqueted — and they could not make 
Ain Arik that day. As soon as it was light on the 
following morning the 6th Mounted Brigade brushed 
away opposition in Foka and entered the village, 
pushing on thence towards Beitunia. The advance 
was slow and hazardous ; every hill had to be searched, 
a task difficult of accomplishment by reason of the 
innumerable caves and boulders capable of sheltering 
snipers. The Turk had become an adept at sniping, 
and left parties in the hills to carry on by themselves. 
When the 6tli Brigade got within two miles of the 
south-west of Beitunia they were opposed by 5000 
Turks weU screened by woods on the slopes and the 
wadi. Both sides strove all day without gaining 
ground. Divisional headquarters were only a short 
distance behind the 6th, and the 8th Brigade was 


moved up into the same area to be ready to assist. 
By two o'clock in the afternoon the 22nd Brigade 
got into Ain Arik and found a strong force of the 
enemy holding Beitunia and the hill of Muntar, a 
few hundred yards to the north of it, thus barring 
the way to Ramallah and Bireh. Rain fell copiously 
and the wind was chilly. After a miserable night in 
bivouac, the 6th Brigade was astir before dayhght 
on the 21st. They were fighting at dawn, and in 
the half light compelled the enemy to retire to within 
half a mile of Beitunia. A few prisoners were rounded 
up, and these told the brigadier that 3000 Turks were 
holding Beitunia with four batteries of field guns and 
four heavy camel guns. That estimate was found 
to be approximately accurate. A regiment of the 
8th Brigade sent to reinforce the 6th Brigade on their 
left got within 800 yards of the hill, when the gims 
about Bireh and Bamallah opened on them and 
they were compelled to withdraw, and a Turkish 
coimter -attack forced our forward line back slightly 
in the afternoon. The enemy had a plentiful supply 
of ammunition and made a prodigal use of it. While 
continuing to shell fiercely he put more infantry into 
his fighting line, and as we had only 1200 rifles and 
four mountain guns, which the enemy's artillery 
outranged, it was clear we could not dislodge him from 
the Beitunia crest. The 22nd Mounted Brigade had 
made an attempt to get to Ramallah from Ain Arik, 
but the opposition from Muntar and the high ground 
to the east was much too severe. Our casualties had 
not been inconsiderable, and in face of the enemy's 
superiority in numbers and guns and the strength of 
his position it would have been dangerous and useless 
to make a further attack. General Barrow therefore 
decided to withdraw to Foka during the night. All 
horses had been sent back in the course of the after- 


noon, and when the hght failed the retirement began. 
The wounded were first evacuated, and they, poor 
fellows, had a bad time of it getting back to Foka 
in the dark over four miles of rock-strewn country. 
It was not till two o'clock on the following morning 
that all the convoys of wounded passed through 
Foka, but by that time the track to Tahta had been 
made into passable order, and some of these helpless 
men were out of the hills soon after day hght, journey- 
ing m comparative ease in hght motor ambulances 
over the Plain of Ajalon. 

The arrangements for the withdrawal worked 
admirably. The 8th Mounted Brigade, covering the 
retirement so successfully that the enemy knew 
nothing about it, held on in front of Beitunia till 
three o'clock, reaching Foka before dawn, while the 
22nd Brigade remained covering the northern flank 
till almost midnight, when it fell back to Tahta. 
The Division's casualties during the day were 300 
killed and wounded. We still held the Zeitun ridge, 
observation was kept on Ain Arik from El Hafy by 
one regiment, and troops were out on many parts 
north and east of Tahta and Foka. 

On the next two days there was nothing beyond 
enemy sheUing and patrol encounters. On the 24th 
demonstrations were made against Beitunia to support 
the left of the 52nd Division's attack on El Jib, but 
the enemy was too strong to permit of the yeomanry 
proceeding more than two miles east of Foka. The 
roadmakers had done an enormous amount of navvy 
work on the track between Foka and Tahta. They 
had laboured without cessation, breakmg up rock, 
levering out boulders with crowbars, and doing a sort 
of rough-and-ready levelling, and by the night of the 
24th the track was reported passable for guns. The 
Leicester battery R.H.A. came along it next morning 


without difficulty. I did not see the road till some 
time later and its surface had then been considerably 
improved, but even then one felt the drivers of those 
gun teams had achieved the almost impossible. The 
Leicester battery arrived at Foka just in time to 
unHmber and get into action behind a fig orchard 
in order to disperse a couple of companies of enemy 
infantry which were working round the left flank 
of the Staffordshire Yeomanry at Khurbet Meita, 
below the Zeitun height. The enemy brought up 
reinforcements and made an attack in the late after- 
noon, but this was also broken up. The Berkshu-e 
battery reached Tahta the following day and, with 
the Leicester gunners, answered the Turks' long- 
range shelling throughout the day and night. On 
the 27th the enemy made a determined attempt to 
compel us to withdraw from the Zeitun ridge, which 
is an isolated hill commanding the vaUeys on both 
sides. The 6th Mounted Brigade furnished the 
garrison of 3 officers and 60 men, who occupied a stone 
building on the summit. Against them the enemy 
put 600 infantry with machine guns, and they also 
brought a heavy artillery fire to bear on the building 
from Beitunia, 4000 yards away. The garrison put 
up a most gallant defence. They were compelled 
to leave the building because the enemy practically 
destroyed it by gunfire and the infantry almost 
surrounded the hill, but they obtained cover on the 
boulder-strewn sides of the hill and held their assail- 
ants at bay. At dusk, although the garrison was 
reduced to 2 officers and 26 men, they refused to give 
ground. They were instructed to hold on as long 
as possible, and a reinforcement of 50 men was sent 
up after dark — all that could be spared, as the division 
was holding a series of hills ten miles long and every 
rifle was in the line. This front was being threatened 


at several points, and the activity of patrols at Deir 
Ibzia and north of it suggested that the enemy was 
trying to get into the gap of five miles between the 
yeomanry and the right of the 54th Division which 
was now at Shilta. It was an anxious night, and 
No. 2 Light Armoured Car battery was kept west 
of Tahta to enfilade the enemy with machine guns 
should he appear in the neighbourhood of Suffa. The 
7th Mounted Brigade was ordered up to reinforce. 
The fresh troops arrived at dawn on the 28th, and 
had no sooner got into position at Hellabi, haK a mile 
north-west of Tahta, than their left flank was attacked 
by 1000 Turks with machine guns. The 155th 
Brigade of the 52nd Division was on its way through 
Beit Likia to rest after its hard work in the neighbour- 
hood of Nebi Samwil and El Jib, and it was ordered 
up to assist. At midday the brigade attacked Suffa 
but could not take it. The Scots, however, prevented 
the Turks breaking round the left flank of the yeo- 
manry. The post which had held Zeitun so bravely 
was brought into Foka under cover of the Leicester 
and Berkshire batteries' fire, and very heavy fighting 
continued all day long on the Foka-Tahta-Suffa line, 
but though the enemy employed 3000 infantry in 
his attack, and had four batteries of 77's and four 
heavy camel guns, he was unsuccessful. At dusk 
the attack on Tahta, which had been under shell-fire 
all day, was beaten off and the enemy w as compelled 
to withdraw one mile. Suffa was still his, but his 
advanced troops on the cairn south of that place 
had suffered heavily during the day at the hands of 
the 7th Mounted Brigade, who several times drove 
them off. Some howitzers of the 52nd Division 
were hauled over the hills in the afternoon and 
shelled the cairn so heavily that the post sought 
shelter in Suffa. To the south-east of the hne of 


attack the Turks were doing their utmost to secure 
Foka. They came again and again, and their attacks 
were always met and broken with the bayonet by 
yeomen who were becoming fatigued by continuous 
fighting, and advancing and retiring in this terrible 
country. They could have held the place that night, 
but there was no possibility of sending them rein- 
forcements, and as the enemy had been seen working 
round to the south of the village with machine guns 
it might have been impossible to get them out in 
the morning. General Barrow accordingly withdrew 
the Foka garrison to a new position on a wooded 
ridge half-way between that place and Tahta, and 
the enemy made no attempt to get beyond Foka. 
Late at night he got so close to Tahta from the north 
that he threw bombs at our sangars, but he was 
driven off. 

During the evening the Yeomanry Mounted Divi- 
sion received welcome reinforcements. The 4th Aus- 
trahan Light Horse Brigade were placed in support 
of the 6th Mounted Brigade and a battalion of the 156th 
Infantry Brigade assisted the 7th Mounted Brigade. 

On the 29th the Turks made their biggest effort 
to break through the important Hne we held, and 
all day they persisted with the greatest determination 
in an attack on our left. At midnight they had 
again occupied the cairn south of Suffa, and remained 
there till 8 a.m., when the 268th Brigade Royal Field 
Artillery crowned the hill with a tremendous burst 
of fire and drove them off. The machine-gunners 
of the 7th Mounted Brigade caught the force as it 
was retiring and inflicted many casualties. The 
Turks came back again and again, and the cairn 
repeatedly changed hands, until at last it was un- 
occupied by either side. Towards dusk the Turks' 
attacks petered out, though the guns and snipers 


continued busy, and the Yeomanry Mounted Division 
was relieved by the 231st Infantry Brigade of the 
74th Division and the 157th Infantry Brigade of the 
52nd Division, the Austrahan Mounted Division 
ultimately takhig over the left of the Hne which 
XXth Corps troops occupied. 

The Yeomanry Mounted Division had made a 
grand light against a vastly superior force of the 
enemy in a country absolutely unfavourable to the 
movement of mounted troops. They never had more 
than 1200 rifles holding a far-flung barren and bleak 
line, and the fine quahties of vigorous and swift 
attack, unfaltering disciphne and heroic stubbornness 
in defence under all conditions, get their proof in 
the 499 casualties incurred by the Division in the 
hill fighting, exclusive of those sustained by the 7th 
Mounted Brigade which reinforced them. The Divi- 
sion was made up entirely of first-line yeomanry 
regiments whose members had become efiicient 
soldiers in their spare time, when politicians were 
prattling about peace and deluding parties into the 
behef that there was Uttle necessity to prepare for 
war. Their patriotism and example gave a tone to 
the drafts sent out to replace casualties and the 
wastage of war, and were a credit to the stock from 
which they sprang. 

While the Yeomanry Mounted Division had been 
fighting a great battle alongside the infantry of the 
XXIst Corps in the hills, the remainder of the troops 
of the Desert Mounted Corps were employed on the 
plain and in the coastal sector, hammering the 
enemy hard and establishing a line from the mouth 
of the river Auja through some rising ground across 
the plain. They were busily engaged clearing the 
enemy out of some of the well-ordered villages east 
of the sandy belt, several of them German colonies 


showing signs of prosperity and more regard for 
cleanliness and sanitation than other of the small 
centres of population hereabouts. The village of 
Sarona, north of Jaffa, an almost exclusively German 
settlement, was better arranged than any others, 
but Wilhelma was a good second. 

The most important move was on November 24, 
when, with a view to making the enemy believe an 
attack was intended against his right flank, the 
New Zealand Mounted Kifles Brigade was sent across 
the river Auja to seize the villages of Sheikh Muannis 
near the sea, and Hadrah farther inland, two com- 
panies of infantry holding each of the two crossings. 
The enemy became alarmed and attacked the cavalry 
in force early next morning, 1000 infantry marching 
on Muannis. The Hadrah force was driven back 
across the Auja and the two companies of infantry 
covering the crossing suffered heavily, having no 
support from artiUery, which had been sent into 
bivouac. Some of the men had to swim the river. 
A bridge of boats had been built at Jerisheh mill 
during the night, and by this means men crossed until 
Muamiis was occupied by the enemy later in the morn- 
ing. The cavalry crossed the ford at the mouth of 
the Auja at the gallop. The l/4th Essex held on to 
Hadrah until five out of six officers and about fifty 
per cent, of the men became casualties. There was 
a good deal of minor fighting on this section of the 
front, and in a number of patrol encounters the 
resource of the Australian Light Horse added to 
their bag of prisoners and to the Army's store of 
information. Nothing further of importance oc- 
curred in this neighbourhood until we seized the 
crossings of the Auja and the high ground north of 
the river a week before the end of the year. 



The impossibility of getting across the road north 
of Jerusalem by makhig a wide sweep over the Judean 
hills caused a new plan to be put into execution. 
This necessitated a direct attack on the well-prepared 
system of defences on the hills protecting Jerusalem 
from the west, but it did not entail any weakening of 
General Allenby's determination that there should 
be no fighting by British troops in and about the 
precincts of the Holy City. That resolve was un- 
shaken and unshakable. When a new scheme was 
prepared by the XXth Corps, the question was put 
whether the Turks could be attacked at Lifta, which 
was part of their system. Now Lifta is a native 
village on one of the hill-faces to the west of Jerusalem, 
about a mile from the Holy City's walls, and, as it is 
not even connected by a road with any of the various 
colonies forming the suburbs of Jerusalem, could 
not by any stretch of imagination be described by a 
Hun propaganda merchant as part of Jerusalem. 
I happen to know that on the 26th November the 
Commander-in-Chief sent this communication to 
General Chetwode : ' I place no restriction upon 
you in respect of any operation which you may 
consider necessary against Lifta or the enemy's lines 
to the south of it, except that on no account is any 
risk to be run of bringing the City of Jerusalem or its 
immediate environs within the area of operations.' 
The spirit as well as the letter of that order was 



carried out, and in the very full orders and notes 
on the operations issued before the victorious attack 
was made, there is the most elaborate detail regarding 
the different objectives of divisions and brigades, 
and scrupulous care was taken that no advance 
should be made against any resisting enemy within 
the boundaries not only of the Holy City but of the 
suburbs. We shall see how thoroughly these in- 
structions were followed. 

When it became obvious that Jerusalem could not 
be secured without the adoption of a deliberate 
method of attack, there were many matters requiring 
the anxious consideration of the XXth Corps staff. 
They took over from XXIst Corps at a time when 
the enemy was stiU very active against the hne 
which they had gained under very hard conditions. 
The XXth Corps, beginning with the advantage of 
positions which the XXIst Corps had won, had to 
prepare to meet the enemy with equal gun power 
and more than equality in rifle strength. We had the 
men and the guns in the country, but to get them into 
the line and to keep them suppHed was a problem 
of considerable magnitude. Time was an important 
factor. The rains had begun. The spells of fine 
weather were getting shorter, and after each period 
of rain the sodden state of the country affected all 
movement. To bring up supphes we could only rely 
on road traffic from Gaza and Deir Sineid, and the 
Hght soil had become hopelessly cut up during the 
rains. The main hne of railway was not to be 
opened to Mejdel till December 8, and the captured 
Turkish line between Deir Sineid and Junction 
Station had a maximum capacity of one hundred 
tons of ordnance stores a day, and these had to be 
moved forward again by road. An advance must 
slow down while communications were improved. 


The XXth Corps inherited from the XXIst Corps the 
track between Beit Likia and Biddu which had been 
prepared with an infinity of trouble and exertion, 
but this and the main Latron-Jerusalem road were 
the only highways available. 

General Chetwode's Corps reheved General Bulfin's 
Corps during the day of November 28, and viewed 
in the most favourable light it appeared that there 
must be at least one wreck's work on the roads before 
it would be possible for heavy and field batteries, in 
sufficient strength to support an attack, to be got 
into the mountains. A new road was begun between 
Latron and Beit Likia, and another from Enab to 
Kubeibeh, and these, even in a rough state of com- 
pletion, eased the situation very considerably. An 
enormous amount of labour was devoted to the main 
road. The surface was in bad order and was getting 
worse every hour with the passage of lorry traffic. 
It became full of holes, and the available metal in 
the neighbourhood was a friable limestone which, 
under heavy pressure during rains, was ground into 
the consistency of a thick cream. Pioneer battalions 
were reinforced by large parties of Egyptian labour 
corps, and these worked ceaselessly, clearing off top 
layers of mud, carrying stones down from the hills 
and breaking them, putting on a new surface and 
repairing the decayed walls which held up the road 
in many places. The roadmakers proved splendid 
fellows. They put a vast amount of energy into their 
work, but when the roads were improved rain gravely 
interfered with traffic, and camels were found to be 
most unsatisfactory. They shpped and fell and no 
reUance could be placed on a camel convoy getting 
to its destination in the hills. Two thousand donkeys 
were pressed into service, and with them the troops 
in the distant positions were kept supplied. It would 


not be possible to exaggerate the value of this donkey 
transport. In anticipation of the advance the 
Quartermaster-General's department, with the fore- 
sight which characterised that department and all 
its branches throughout the campaign, searched 
Egypt for the proper stamp of asses for pack trans- 
port in the hiUs. The Egyptian donkey is a big 
fellow with a light-grey coat, capable of carrying, a 
substantial load, hardy, generally docile, and less 
stubborn than most of the species. He is much taller 
and heavier than the Palestine donkey, and our 
Army never submitted him to the atrociously heavy^ 
loads which crush and break the spirit of the local 
Arabs' animals. It is, perhaps, too much to hope 
that the natives will learn something from the British 
soldier's treatment of animals. It was one of the 
sights of the campaign to see the donkey trains at 
work. They carried supplies which, having been 
brought by the mihtary railway from the Suez Canal 
to railhead, were conveyed by motor lorries as far as 
the state of the road permitted self-propelled vehicles 
to run, were next transhipped into limbers, and, 
when horse transport could proceed no farther, were 
stowed on to the backs of camels. The condition of 
the road presently held up the camels, and then 
donkey trains took over the loads. Under a white 
officer you would see a chain of some two hundred 
donkeys, each roped in file of four, led by an Egyptian 
who knew all that was worth knowing about the 
ways of the ass, winding their way up and down hills, 
getting a foothold on rocks where no other animal 
but a goat could stand, and surmounting all obstacles 
with a patient endurance which every soldier admired. 
They did not like the cold, and the rain made them 
look deplorably wretched, but they got rations and 
drinking-water right up to the crags where our in- 



fantry were practising mountaineering. Shell -fire 
did not disturb them much, and they would nibble 
at any rank stuff growing on the hiUsides to supple- 
ment the rations which did not always reach their 
Imes at regular intervals. The Gyppy boys were 
excellent leaders, and to them and the donkeys the 
front-hne fighting men in the hill country owe much. 
They were saved a good deal of exhausting labour in 
manhandling stores from the point where camels had 
to stop, and they could therefore concentrate their 
attention on the Turk. 

By December 2 the fine exertions of the troops on 
the Une of communications had enabled the XXth 
Corps Commander to make his plans for the capture 
of Jerusalem, and at a conference at Enab on the 
following day General Chetwode outlined his scheme, 
which, put ii\a nutshell, was to attack with the 60th 
and 74th Divisions in an easterly direction on the 
front Ain Karim-Beit Surik and, skirting the western 
suburbs of Jerusalem, to place these two divisions 
astride the Jerusalem-Nablus road, while the 53rd 
Division advanced from Hebron to threaten the 
enemy from the south and protect the right of the 
60th Division. I will not apologise for deaUng as 
fully as possible with the fighting about Jerusalem, 
because Jerusalem was one of the great victories of 
the war, and the care taken to observe the sanctity 
of the place will for all time stand out as one of the 
brightest examples of the honour of British arms. 
But before entering upon those details I will put in 
chronological sequence the course of the fighting on 
this front from the moment when the XXth Corps 
took over the command, and show how, despite enemy 
vigilance and many attacks, the preparations for 
the outstanding event of the campaign were carried 
through. It is remarkable that in the short period 


of ten days the plans could be worked out in detail 
and carried through to a triumphant issue, notwith- 
standing the bad weather and the almost overwhelm- 
ing difficulties of supply. Only the whole-hearted 
co-operation of aU ranks made it possible. On the 
day after the XXth Corps became responsible for 
this front General Chetwode had a conference with 
Generals Barrow, HiU, and Girdwood, and after a 
full discussion of the situation in the hills decided to 
abandon the plan of getting on to the Jerusalem- 
Nablus road from the north in favour of attempting 
to take Jerusalem from the west and south-west. 
The commanders of the Yeomanry Mounted Division 
and the 52nd Division were asked to suggest, from 
their experience of the fighting of the past ten days, 
what improvement in the line was necessary to make 
it certain that the new plan would not be interfered 
with by an enemy counter-attack. They were in 
favour of taking the western portion of the Beitunia- 
Zeitun ridge. Preparations were made immediately 
to reheve the Yeomanry Mounted Division by the 
Australian Mounted Division, and when the 10th 
Division arrived — it was marching up from Gaza — 
the 52nd Division was to be returned to the XXIst 
Corps. The hard fighting and the determined attacks 
of the Turks had made it unavoidable that some 
portions of the divisions should be mixed, and the 
reliefs were not completed till the 2nd of December. 
The Yeomanry Mounted Division troops gave 
over the Tahta defences to the 157th Infantry Brigade 
on the night of November 29-30, and the enemy 
made an attack on the new defenders at dawn, but 
were swiftly beaten off. A local effort against Nebi 
Samwil was easily repulsed, but the 60th Division 
reported that the enemy had in the past few days 
continued his shelhng of the Mosque, and had added 


to his destruction of that sacred place by demoHshing 
the minaret by gunfire. The 231st Infantry Brigade 
with one battahon in the front hne took over from 
the 8th Mounted Brigade from Beit Dukku to Jufna, 
and while the rehefs were in progress there was 
continual fighting in the Et Tireh-Foka area. The 
former place was won and lost several times, and 
finally the infantry consolidated on the high ground 
west of those villages. Early on the 30th a detach- 
ment of the 231st Brigade took Foka, capturing eight 
officers and 298 men, but as it was not possible to 
hold the village the infantry retired to our original 
line. On December 1 the 10th Division relieved the 
52nd in the sector wadi Zait-Tahta-Kh. Faaush, but 
on that day the 155th Brigade had had another 
hard brush with the Turks. A regiment of the 3rd 
Australian Light Horse on a hill north of El Burj in 
front of them was heavily attacked at half-past one 
in the morning by a specially prepared sturmtruppen 
battalion of the Turkish 19th Division, and a footing 
was gained in our position, but with the aid of a 
detachment of the Gloucester Yeomanry and the 
l/4th Royal Scots Fusiliers the enemy was driven out 
at daybreak and six officers and 106 un wounded and 
60 wounded Turks, wearing steel hats and equipped 
like German storming troops, were taken prisoners. 
The attack was pressed with the greatest determina- 
tion, and the enemy, using hand grenades, got within 
thirty yards of our line. During the latter part of 
their advance the Turks were exposed to a heavy 
cross fire from machine guns and rifles of the 9th 
Light Horse Regiment, and this fire and the guns 
of the 268th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and 
the Hong Kong and Singapore battery prevented 
the retirement of the enemy. The capture of the 
prisoners was effected by an encirchng movement 


round both flanks. Our casualties were 9 killed and 
47 wounded. That storming battahon left over 100 
dead about our trenches. At the same time a violent 
attack was made on the Tahta defences held by the 
157th Brigade ; the enemy, rushing forward in con- 
siderable strength and with great impetus, captured 
a ridge overlooking Tahta — a success which, if they 
had succeeded in holding the position till daylight, 
would have rendered that village untenable, and 
would have forced our line back some distance at an 
important point. It proved to be a last desperate 
effort of the enemy at this vital centre. No sooner 
were the Scots driven off the ridge than they re-formed 
and prepared to retake it. Reinforced, they attacked 
with magnificent courage in face of heavy machine- 
gun Bie, but it was not until after a rather prolonged 
period of bayonet work that the Lowland troops got 
the upper hand, the Turks trying again and again to 
force them out. At haK-past four they gave up 
the attempt, and from that hour Tahta and the rocks 
about it were objects of terror to them. 

Nor did the Turks permit Nebi Samwil to remain in 
our possession undisputed. The Londoners holding 
it were thrice attacked with extreme violence, but 
the defenders never flinched, and the heavy losses 
of the enemy may be measured by the fact that when 
we took Jerusalem and an unwonted silence hung over 
Nebi Samwil, our burying parties interred more than 
500 Turkish dead about the summit of that lofty 
hill. Their graves are mostly on the eastern, northern, 
and southern slopes. Ours He on the west, where 
Scot, Londoner, West Countryman, and Indian, all 
equally heroic sons of the Empire, sleep, as they 
fought, side by side. 

The last heavy piece of fighting on the XXth 
Corps' front before the attack on Jerusalem was on 


December 3, when a regiment of yeomanry, which 
Uke a number of other yeomanry regiments had been 
dismounted to form the 74th Division, covered itself 
with glory. The 16th (Royal Devon Yeomanry) 
battahon of the Devon Regiment belonging to the 
229th Brigade was ordered to make an attack on 
Beit ur el Foka in the dark hours of the morning. 
All the officers had made reconnaissances and had 
learned the extreme difficulties of the ground. At 
1 A.M. these yeomen worked their way up the wadi 
Zeit to the head of that narrow watercourse at the 
base of the south-western edge of the hill on which 
the village stands. The attack was launched from 
this position, the company on the right having the 
steepest face to climb. Here the villagers, to get 
the most out of the soil and to prevent the winter 
rains washing it off the rocks into the wadi, had built 
a series of terraces, and the retaining walls, often 
crumbling to the touch, offered some cover from the 
Turkish defenders' fire. With the advantage of this 
shelter the troops on the right reached the southern 
end of the village soon after 2 o'clock, but the com- 
pany on the left met with much opposition on the 
easier slope, and had to call in aid the support of a 
machine-gun section posted in the woods on a ridge 
north-west of the village. By 3 o'clock the whole 
battahon was in the village, using rifle and bayonet 
in the road scarcely more than a couple of yards wide, 
and bombing the enemy out of native mud and stone 
houses and caves. Two officers and fifteen un- 
wounded men were taken prisoners with three 
machine guns, but before any consolidation could 
be done the Turks began a series of counter-attacks 
which lasted all day. As we had previously found, 
Foka was very hard to defend. It is overlooked 
on the north, north-east, and east by ridges a few 


hundred yards away, and by a high hill north of 
Ain Jeruit, 1200 yards to the north, by another hill 
1000 yards to the east, and by the famous Zeitun 
ridge about 1500 yards beyond it, and attacks from 
these directions could be covered very effectively by 
overhead machine-gun foe. To enlarge the peri- 
meter of defence would be to increase the difficulties 
and require a much larger force than was available, 
and there was no intention of going beyond Foka 
before the main operation against Jerusalem was 
started. To hold Foka securely a force must be in 
possession of the heights on the north and east, and 
to keep these Beitunia itself must be gained. Before 
daylight arrived some work on defences was begun, 
but it was interfered with by snipers and not much 
could be done. Immediately the sun rose from behind 
the Judean hills there was a violent outburst of fire 
from machine guns and rifles on three sides, in- 
creasing in volume as the light improved. The 
enemy counter-attacked with a determination fully 
equal to that which he had displayed during the past 
fortnight's battle in the hiUs. He had the advantage 
of cover and was supported by artillery and a hurri- 
cane of machine-gun fire, but although he climbed 
the hill and got into the small gardens outside the 
very houses, he was repulsed with bomb and bayonet. 
At one moment there was little rifle fire, and the two 
sides fought it out with bombs. The Turks retired 
with heavy losses, but they soon came back again 
and fought with the same determination, though 
equally unsuccessfully. The Devons called for artil- 
lery, and three batteries supported them splendidly, 
though the gunners were under a great disadvantage 
in that the ground did not permit the effect of gunfire 
to be observed and it was difficult to follow the 
attackers. The supplies of bombs and small-arms 


ammunition were getting low, and to replenish them 
men had to expose themselves to a torrent of fire, 
so fierce indeed that in bringing up two boxes of 
rifle ammmiition which four men could carry twelve 
casualties were incuiTed. A head shown in the 
village instantly drew a hail of bullets from three 
sides. Reinforcements were on the way up, and the 
Fife and Forfar Yeomanry battalion of the Royal 
Highlanders were prepared to make a flank attack 
from their outpost line three-quarters of a mile south- 
east of Foka to reheve the Devons, but this would 
have endangered the safety of the outpost line 
without reducing the fire from the heights, and as 
the Fife and Forfar men would have had to cross 
two deep wadis under enfilade ^e on their way to 
Foka their adventure would have been a perilous 
one. By this time three out of four of the Devons' 
company commanders were wounded and the casual- 
ties were increasing. The officer commanding the 
battahon therefore decided, after seven hours of 
terrific fighting, that the village of Foka was no longer 
tenable, and authority was given him to withdraw. 
In their last attack the enemy put 1000 men against 
the village, and it was not until the O.C. Devons 
had seen this strength that he proposed the place 
should be evacuated. His men had put up a great 
fight. The battahon went into action 762 strong ; 
it came out 488. Three officers were killed and nine 
wounded, and 49 other ranks killed and 132 wounded. 
Thirteen were wounded and missing and 78 missing. 
In Foka to-day you will see most of the battered 
houses repaired, but progress through the streets is 
partially baiTed by the graves of Devon yeomen who 
were buried where they feU. It was not possible to 
hew a grave in rock, therefore earth and stone were 
piled up round the bodies, so that in at least two 


spots you find several graves serving as buttresses 
to rude dwellings. On one of these graves, beside 
the identification tablet of two strong sons of Devon, 
you will find, on a piece of paper inserted in a slit 
cut into wood torn from an ammunition box, the 
words ' Grave of unknown Turk.' Friend and foe 
share a common resting-place. The natives of this 
village are more than usually friendly, and those 
graves seem safe in their keeping. 

Between the 4th and 7th December there was a 
reshuffling of the troops holding the fine to enable 
a concentration of the divisions entrusted with the 
attack on the defences covering Jerusalem. The 
10th Division reheved the 229th and 230th Brigades 
of the 74th Division and extended its line to cover 
Beit Dukku, a point near and west of Et Tireh, to 
Tahta, and when the enemy retired from the im- 
mediate front of the 10th Division's left, Hellabi 
and Suffa were occupied. The Australian Mounted 
Division also slightly advanced its line. On the 
night of December 5 the 231st Brigade relieved the 
60th Division in the Beit Izza and Nebi Samwil 
positions, and on December 6 the line held by the 
74th was extended to a point about a mile and a half 
north of Kulonieh. The 53rd Division had passed 
through Hebron, and its advance was timed to reach 
the Bethlehem-Beit Jala district on December 7. 
The information gained by the XXth Corps led the 
staff to estimate the strength of the enemy opposite 
them to be 13,300 rifles and 2700 sabres, disposed 
as follows : east of Jerusalem the 7th cavalry 
regiment, 500 sabres ; the 27th Division covering 
Jerusalem and extending to the Junction Station- 
Jerusalem railway at Bitter Station, 1200 rifles ; 
thence to the Latron-Jerusalem road with strong 
points at Ain Karim and Deir Yesin, the 53rd Turkish 


Division, 2000 rifles ; from the road to Nebi Samwil 
(Beit Iksa being very strongly held) the 26th Turkish 
Division, 1800 rifles ; Nebi Samwil to Beit ur el Foka, 
19th Turkish Division with the 2/61st regiment and 
the 158th regiment attached, 4000 rifles ; Beit ur el 
Foka to about Suffa, the 24th Division, 1600 rifles; 
thence to the extreme left of the XXth Corps the 
3rd Cavaky Division, 1500 sabres. The 54th Turkish 
Division was in reserve at Bireh with 2700 rifles. 
The enemy held a hne covering Bethlehem across 
the Hebron road to Balua, then to the hill Kibryan 
south-west of Beit Jala, whence the hne proceeded 
due north to Ain Karim and Deir Yesin, both of 
which were strongly entrenched, on to the hill over- 
looking the Jerusalem road above Lifta. From this 
point the Hne crossed the road to the high ground 
west of Beit Iksa — entrenchments were cut deep into 
the face of this hill to cover the road from Kulonieh — 
thence northward agaui to the east of Nebi Samwil, 
west of El Jib, Dreihemeh (one mile north-east of 
Beit Dukku) to Foka, Kh. Aberjan, and beyond 

During the attack the Australian Mounted Division 
was to protect the left flank of the 10th Division, 
which with one brigade of the 74th Division was to 
hold the whole of the line in the hills from Tahta 
through Foka, Dukku, Beit Izza to Nebi Samwil, 
leaving the attack to be conducted by two brigade 
groups of the 74th Division, the whole of the 60th 
Division, and two brigade groups of the 53rd Division, 
with the 10th regiment of Australian Light Horse 
watching the right flank of the 60th Division until 
the left of thv^ 53rd could join up with it. One brigade 
of the 53rd Division was to advance from the Beth- 
lehem-Beit Jala area with its left on the line drawn 
from Sherafat through Malhah to protect the 60th 


Division's flank, the other brigade marching direct 
on Jerusalem, and to move by roads south of the 
town to a position covering Jerusalem from the east 
and north-east, but — and these were instructions 
specially impressed on this brigade — 'the City of 
Jerusalem will not be entered, and all movements 
by troops and vehicles will be restricted to roads 
passing outside the City.' The objective of the 
60th and 74th Divisions was a general line from 
Ras et Tawil, a hill east of the Nablus road about 
four miles north of Jerusalem, to Nebi Samwil, one 
brigade of the 74th Division holding Nebi Samwil 
and Beit Izza defences and to form the pivot of the 
attack. The dividing line between the 60th and 74th 
Divisions was the Enab- Jerusalem road as far as 
Lifta and from that place to the wadi Beit Hannina. 
The form of the attack was uncertain until it was 
known how the enemy would meet the advance of 
the 53rd Division, which, on the 3rd December, 
was in a position north of Hebron within two ten- 
mile marches of the point at which it would co-operate 
on the right of the 60th. If the enemy increased 
his strength south of Jerusalem to oppose the advance 
of the 53rd Division, General Chetwode proposed 
that the 60th and 74th Divisions should force straight 
through to the Jerusalem-Nablus road, the 60th 
throwing out a flank to the south-east, so as to cut 
off the Turks opposing the 53rd from either the Nablus 
or the Jericho road. It was not considered probable 
that the enemy would risk the capture of a large 
body of troops south of Jerusalem. On the other 
hand, should the Turks withdraw from in front of the 
Welsh Division, the alternative plan provided that 
the latter attack should take the form of making a 
direct advance on Jerusalem and a wheel by the 
60th and 74th Divisions, pivoting on the Beit Izza 


and Ncbi Samwil defences, so as to drive the enemy 
northwards. The operations were to be divided into 
four phases. The first phase fell to the 60th and 74th 
Divisions, and consisted in the capture of the wliole 
of the south-western and western defences of Jeru- 

These ran from a point near the railway south-west 
of Malhah round to the west of Ain Karim, then on to 
the hill of Khurbet Subr, down a cleft in the hills and 
up on to the high Deir Yesm ridge, thence round the 
top of two other hills dominating the old and new 
roads to Jerusalem from Jaffa as they pass by the 
village of Kulonieh. North of the new road the 
enemy's line ran round the southern face of a bold 
hill overlooking the village of Beit Iksa and along the 
tortuous course of the wadi El Abbeideh. In the 
second phase the 60th Division was to move over 
the Jaffa-Jerusalem road with its right almost up 
to the scattered houses on the north-western fringe of 
Jerusalem's suburbs, and its left was to pass the 
village of Lifta on the slope of the hill rising from the 
wadi Beit Hannina. The objective of the 60th 
Division in the third phase was the capture of a line 
of a track leaving the Jerusalem -Nablus road well 
forward of the northern suburb and running down 
to the wadi Hannina, the 74th Division advancing 
down the spur running south-east from Nebi Samwil 
to a point about 1000 yards south-west of Beit Han- 
nina, the latter a prominent height with a slope 
amply clothed with olive trees. The fourth phase 
was an advance astride the road to Ras et Tawil. 
As will be seen hereafter all these objectives were 
not obtained, but the first, and chief of them, was, 
and the inevitable followed — Jerusalem became ours. 

Let us now picture some of the country the troops 
had to cross and the defences they had to capture 


before the Turks could be forced out of Jerusalem. 
We wiU first look at it from Enab, the ancient Kir- 
jath-jearim, which the Somersets, Wilts, and Gurkhas 
had taken at the point of the bayonet. From the top 
of Enab the Jaffa- Jerusalem road winds down a deep 
valley, plentifully planted with olive and fig trees 
and watered by the wadi Ikbala. A splendid supply 
of water had been developed by Royal Engineers 
near the ruins of a Crusader fortress which, if native 
tradition may be rehed on, housed Richard of the 
Lion Heart. From the wadi rises a hiU on which is 
Kustul, a village covering the site of an old Roman 
castle from which, doubtless, its name is derived. 
Kustul stands out the next boldest feature to Nebi 
Samwil, and from it, when the atmosphere is clear, 
the red-tiled roofs of houses in the suburbs of Jeru- 
salem are plainly visible. A dozen villages clinging 
like hmpets to steep hillsides are before you, and 
away on your right front the tall spires of Christian 
churches at Ain Karim tell you you are approaching 
the Holy Sites. Looking east the road falls, with 
many short zigzags in its length, to Kulonieh, crosses 
the wadi Surar by a substantial bridge (which the 
Turks blew up), and then creeps up the hills in heavy 
gradients tiU it is lost to view about Lifta. The wadi 
Surar winds round the foot of the hiU which Kustul 
crowns, and on the other side of the watercourse 
there rises the series of hiUs on which the Turks in- 
tended to hold our hands ofi Jerusalem. The descent 
from Kustul is very rapid and the rise on the other 
side is almost as precipitous. On both sides of the 
wadi olive trees are thickly planted, and on the ter- 
raced slopes vines yield a plentiful harvest. Big 
spurs run down to the wadi, the sides are rough even 
in dry weather, but when the winter rains are fall- 
ing it is difficult to keep a foothold. South-west of 


Kustul is Soba, a village on another high hill, and 
below it and west of Ain Karim, on lower ground, is 
Setaf, both having orchards and vineyards in which 
the inhabitants practise the arts of husbandry by 
the same methods as their remote forefathers. An 
aerial reconnaissance nearly a year before we took 
Jerusalem showed the Turks busily making trenches 
on the hills east of the wadi Surar. An inspection 
of the defences proved the work to have been long 
and arduous, though hke many things the Turk began 
he did not finish them. What he did do was done 
elaborately. He employed masons to chisel the 
stone used for revetting, and in places the stones fit 
well and truly one upon the other, while an enormous 
amount of rock must have been blasted to excavate 
the trenches. The system adopted was to have 
three fire trenches near the top of the hills, one above 
the other, so that were the first two lines taken the 
third would still offer a difficult obstacle, and, if the 
defenders were armed with bombs, it would be hard 
for attackers to retain the trenches in front of them. 
There was much dead ground below the entrench- 
ments, but the defences were so arranged that cross 
fire from one system swept the dead ground on the 
next spur, and, if the hills were properly held, an ad- 
vance up them would have been a stupendous task. 
The Turk had put all his eggs into one basket. Per- 
haps he considered his positions impregnable — they 
would have been practically impregnable in British 
hands — and he made no attempt to cut support 
trenches behind the crest. There was one system 
only, and his failure to provide defences in depth 
cost him dear. 

Looking eastwards from Kustul, the Turkish 
positions south of the Jaffa-Jerusalem road, each of 
them on a hill, were called by us the ' Liver Redoubt ' 


(near Lifta), the ' Heart Redoubt,' ' Deir Yesin,' 
and ' Khurbet Subr,' with the village of Ain Karim 
in a fold of the hills and a line of trenches south-west 
of it running down to the railway. Against the 
74th Division's front the nature of the country was 
equally difficult. From Beit Surik down to the Kulo- 
nieh road the hills fell sharply with the ground strewn 
with boulders. Our men had to advance across 
ravines and beds of watercourses covered with large 
stones, and up the wooded slopes of hills where stone 
walls constituted ready-made sangars easily capable 
of defence. The hardest position they had to tackle 
was the hill covering Beit Iksa, due north of the road 
as it issued from Kulonieh, where long semicircular 
trenches had been cut to command at least half a 
mile of the main road. In front of the 53rd Division 
was an ideal rearguard country where enterprising 
cavalry could have delaj^ed an advance by infantry 
for a lengthened period. To the south of Bethlehem, 
around Beit Jala and near Urtas, covering the Pools 
of Solomon, an invaluable water supply, there were 
prepared defences, but though the Division was much 
delayed by heavy rain and dense mist, the fog was 
used to their advantage, for the whole of the Division's 
horses were watered at Solomon's Pools one after- 
noon without opposition from the Urtas garrison. 

December 8 was the date fixed for the attack. 
On December 7 rain fell unceasingly. The roads, 
which had been drying, became a mass of sHppery 
mud to the west of Jerusalem, and on the Hebron 
side the Welsh troops had to trudge ankle deep 
through a soft limy surface. It was soon a most 
difficult task to move transport on the roads. Lorries 
skidded, and double teams of horses could only make 
slow progress with Umbers. Off the road it became 
almost impossible to move. The ground was a quag- 


mire. On the sodden hills the troops bivouacked 
without a stick to shelter them. The wind was 
strong and drove walls of water before it, and there 
was not a man in the attacking force with a dry skin. 
Sleep on those perishing heights was quite out of the 
question, and on the day when it was hoped the men 
would get rest to prepare them for the morrow's 
fatigue the whole Army was shivering and awake. 
So bad were the conditions that the question was con- 
sidered as to whether it would not be advisable to 
postpone the attack, but General Chetwode, than 
whom no general had a greater sympathy for his men, 
decided that as the 53rd Division were within striking 
distance by the enemy the attack must go forward 
on the date fixed. That night was calculated to 
make the stoutest hearts faint. Men whose blood 
had been thinned by summer heat in the desert 
were now called upon to endure long hours of piercing 
cold, with their clothes wet through and water oozing 
out of their boots as they stood, with equipment 
made doubly heavy by rain, caked with mud from 
steel helmet to heel, and the toughened skin of old 
campaigners rendered sore by rain driven against it 
with the force of a gale. Groups of men huddled 
together in the effort to keep warm : a vain hope. 
And all welcomed the order to fall in preparatory to 
moving off in the darkness and mist to a battle which, 
perhaps more than any other in this war, stirred the 
emotions of countless millions in the Old and New 
Worlds. Yet their spirits remained the same. 
Nearly frozen, very tired, ' fed up ' with the weather, 
as all of them were, they were alwa3^s cheerful, and 
the man who missed his footing and floundered in 
the mud regarded the incident as light-heartedly as 
his fellows. An Army which could face the trials of 
such a night with cheerfulness was unbeatable. On© 

o < 

t D 


section of the force did regard the prospects with 
rueful countenances. This was the Divisional artillery. 
Tractors, those wonderfully ugly but efficient engines 
which triumphed over most obstacles, had got the 
heavies into position. The 96th Heavy Group, con- 
sisting of three 6-inch howitzer batteries, one com- 
plete 60-pounder battery, and a section of another 
60-pounder battery, and the Hong Kong and Singa- 
pore Mountain Battery, were attached to and up 
with the 74th Division. The 10 and B 9 Mountain 
Batteries were with the 60th Division waiting to try 
their luck down the hills, and the 91st Heavy Battery 
{60-pounders) was being hauled forward with the 
53rd. The heavies could get in long-range fire from 
Kustul, but what thought the 18-pounder batteries ? 
With the country in such a deplorable state it looked 
hopeless for them to expect to be in the show, and 
the prospect of remaining out of the big thing had 
more effect upon the gunners than the weather. As 
a matter of fact but few field batteries managed to 
get into action. Those which succeeded in opening 
fire during the afternoon of December 8 did most 
gallant work for hours, with enemy riflemen shooting 
at them from close range, and their work formed a 
worthy part in the victory. The other field gunners 
could console themselves with the fact that the 
difficulties which were too great for them — and really 
field-gun fire on the steep slopes could not be very 
effective — prevented even the mountain batteries, 
which can go almost anywhere, from fully co-operat- 
ing with the infantry. 

The preliminary moves for the attack were made 
during the night. The 179th Infantry Brigade group 
consisting of 2/13th London, 2/14th London, 2/15th 
London, and 2/1 6th London with the 2/23rd London 
attached, the 10th Mountain Battery and B 9 Moun- 



tain Battery, a section of the 521st Field Coy. R.E., 
C company of Loyal North Lancashire Pioneers, and 
the 2/4th Field Ambulance specially equipped on 
an all-mule scale, moved to the wadi Surar in two 
columns. The right column was preceded by an ad- 
vance guard of the Kensington battalion, the Loyal 
North Lancashire Pioneers, and the section of R.E., 
which left the brigade bivouacs behind Soba at five 
o'clock on the afternoon of the 7th to enable the 
pioneers and engineers to improve a track marked 
on the map. For the greater part of the way the track 
had evidently been unused for many years, and all 
traces of it had disappeared, but in three hours' time 
a way had been made down the hill to the wadi, 
and the brigade got over the watercourse just north 
of Setaf a little after midnight. As a preliminary 
to the attack on the first objective it was necessary 
to secure the high groimd south of Ain Karim and 
the trenches covering that bright and picturesque 
little towTi. At two o'clock, when rain and mist 
made it so dark it was not possible to see a wall a 
couple of yards ahead, the Kensingtons advanced 
to gain the heights south of Ain Karim in order to 
enable the 179th Brigade to be deployed. A scramb- 
ling climb brought the Kensingtons to the top of 
the hill, and, after a weird fight of an hour and a half 
in such blackness of night that it was hard to distin- 
guish between friend and foe, they captured it and 
beat off several persistent coimter-attacks. The 
179th Brigade thus had the ground secured for pre- 
paring to attack their section of the main defences. 
The 180th Infantry Brigade, whose brigadier, Brig.- 
General Watson, had the honour of being the first 
general in Jerusalem, the first across the Jordan, 
and the first to get through the Turkish fine in Sep- 
tember 1918 when General Allenby sprang forward 


through the Turks and made the mighty march to 
Aleppo, was composed of the 2/1 7th London, 2/1 8th 
London, 2/19th London, and 2/20th London, 519th 
Coy. R.E., two platoons of pioneers, and the 
2/5th Field Ambulance. It reached its position of 
assembly without serious opposition, though a de- 
tachment which went through the village of Kulonieh 
met some enemy posts. These, to use the brigadier's 
phrase, were ' silently dealt with.' 

It was a fine feat to get the two brigades of Lon- 
doners into their positions of deployment well up 
to time. The infantry had to get from Kustul down 
a precipitous slope of nearly a thousand feet into a 
wadi, now a rushing torrent, and up a rocky and 
almost as steep hill on the other side. Nobody could 
see where he was going, but direction was kept 
perfectly and silence was well maintained, the 
loosened stones falling into mud. The assault was 
launched at a quarter-past five, and in ten minutes 
under two hours the two brigades (the 181st Brigade 
being in reserve just south of Kustul) had penetrated 
the whole of the front line of the defences. The 
Queen's Westminsters on the left of the Kensingtons 
had cleared the Turks out of Ain Karim and then 
climbed up a steep spur to attack the formidable 
Khurbet Subr defences. They took the garrison 
completely by surprise, and those who did not flee 
were either killed or taken prisoners. The Queen's 
Westminsters were exposed to a heavy flanking fire 
at a range of about a thousand yards from a tumulus 
south-east of Ain Karim, above the road from the 
village to the western suburbs of Jerusalem. Turkish 
riflemen were firmly dug in on this spot, and their 
two machine guns poured in an annoying fire on the 
179th Brigade troops which threatened to hold up 
the attack. Indeed preparations were being made 


to send a company to take the tumulus hill in flank, 
but two gallant London Scots settled the activity 
of the enemy and captured the position by them- 
selves. Corporal C. W. Train and Corporal F. S. 
Thornhill stalked the garrison. Corporal Train fired 
a rifle grenade at one machine gun, which he hit and 
put out of action, and then shot the whole of the gun 
team. Thornhill was attacking the other gun, and 
he, with the assistance of Train, accounted for that 
crew as well. The two guns were captured and Tum- 
ulus Hill gave no more trouble. Both these Scots 
were rewarded, and Train has the unique honour of 
wearing the only V.C. awarded during the capture 
of Jerusalem. 

At about the same time there was another very 
gallant piece of work being done by two men of the 
Queen's Westminsters above the KJiurbet Subr ridge. 
When the battahon got to the first objective an 
enemy battery of 77's was found in action on the 
reverse slope of the hill. The guns were firing from 
a hollow near the Ain Karim-Jerusalem track, some 
600 yards behind the forward trenches on Subr, and 
were showing an uncomfortable activity. A company 
was pushed forward to engage the battery. The 
movement was exposed to a good deal of sniping 
fire, and it was not a simple matter for riflemen to 
work ahead on to a knoll on the east of the Subr 
position to deal with the guns. To two men may 
be given the credit for capturing the battery. Lance- 
Corporal W. H. Whines of the Westminsters got 
along quickly and brought his Lewis gun to bear 
on the battery and, with an admirably directed fire, 
caused many casualties. Two gun teams were wiped 
out, either killed or wounded, by the corporal. At 
the same time Rifieman C. D. Smith, who had followed 
his comrade, rushed in on another team and bombed 


it. Smith's rifle had been smashed and was useless, 
but with his bombs he laid low all except one man. 
His supply was then exhausted, but before the Turk 
could use his weapons Smith got to grips and a rare 
¥a*estling bout followed. The Turk would not sur- 
render, and Smith gave him a stranglehold and broke 
his neck. The enemy managed to get one of the 
four guns away. The battery horses were near at 
hand, but while this one gun was escaping at the 
gallop the Westminsters' fire brought down one horse 
and two drivers, and I saw their bodies on the road 
as evidence of how the Westminsters had developed 
the art of shooting at a rapidly moving target. The 
two incidents I have described in detail merely as 
examples of the fighting prowess, not only of one 
but of all three divisions alike in the capture of Jeru- 
salem. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that they 
were examples of the spirit of General AUenby's 
whole force, for English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, 
Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, cavalry, in- 
fantry, and artillery, had all, during the six weeks 
of the campaign, shown the same high qualities in 
irresistible attack and stubborn defence. 

The position of the 179th Brigade at this time 
was about one mile east of Ain Karim, where it 
was exposed to heavy enfilade fire from its right 
and, as it was obvious that the advance of the 53rd 
Division had been delayed owing to the fog and 
rain, the brigadier decided not to go further during 
the early part of the day but to wait till he could 
be supported by the mountain batteries, which the 
appalling state of the ground had prevented from 
keeping up with him. 

Now as to the advance of the 180th Infantry 
Brigade. Their principal objective was the Deir 
Yesin position, the hill next on the northern side 


of Subr, from which it was separated by a deep 
though narrow valley. The trenches cut on both 
sides of this gorge supported Subr as well as Deir 
Yesin, and the Subr defences were also arranged 
to be helpful to the Deir Yesin garrison by 
taking attackers in flank. The 180th Brigade's 
advance was a direct frontal attack on the hill, 
the jumping-oft' place being a narrow width of 
flat ground thickly planted with olive trees on 
the banks of the wadi Surar. The 2/1 9th Lon- 
dons, the right battahon of the 180th Brigade, had 
not got far when it became the target of concen- 
trated machine-gun fire and was unable to move, 
with the result that a considerable gap existed 
between it and the 179th Brigade. The stoppage 
was only temporary, for, with the advance of the 
centre and right, the 19th battahon pushed forward 
in series of rushes and, with the other battalions, 
carried the crest of Deir Yesin at the point of the 
bayonet, so that the whole system of entrenchments 
was in their hands by seven o'clock. The brigade 
at once set about reorganising for the attack on the 
second objective, which, as will be remembered, 
was a wheel to the left and, passing well on the 
outside of the western suburbs of Jerusalem, an 
advance to the rocky ground to the north-west of 
the city down to the wadi Beit Hannina. The 
commander of the 2/1 8th Londons in his prepara- 
tions had pushed out a platoon in advance of his 
left, and these men at half-past nine saw 200 of the 
enemy with pack mules retiring down a wadi north- 
east of Kulonieh. The platoon held its fire imtil 
the Turks were within close range, and then engaged 
them with rifles and machine guns, completely sur- 
prising them and taking prisoners the whole of the 
survivors, 5 officers and 50 men. The Turks now 


began to develop a serious opposition to the 180th 
Brigade from a quarry behind Deir Yesin and from 
a group of houses forming part of what is known as 
the Syrian colony, nearly a mile from the Deir Yesin 
system. There were some Germans and a number 
of machine guns in these houses, and by noon they 
held up the advance. 

The brigade was seriously handicapped by the 
difficulty in moving guns. The road during the 
morning had got into a desperate state. It was 
next to impossible to haul field guns anywhere off 
the road, and as the Turks had paid no attention to 
the highway for some time — or where they had done 
something it was merely to dump down large stones 
to fill a particularly bad hole — it had become deeply 
rutted and covered with a mass of adhesive mud. 
The guns had to pass down from Kustul by a series 
of zigzags with hairpin bends in full view of enemy 
observers, and it was only by the greatest exertion 
and devotion to duty that the gunners got their teams 
into the neighbourhood of the wadi. The bridge 
over the Surar at Kulonieh having been wholly 
destroyed, they had to negotiate the wadi, which 
was now in torrent and carrying away the waters 
which had washed the face of the hills over a wide 
area. The artillery made a track through a garden 
on the right of the village just before the road reached 
the broken bridge, and two batteries, the 301st and 
302nd, got their guns and Hmbers across. They 
went up the old track leading from Kulonieh to Jeru- 
salem, when first one section and then another came 
into action at a spot between Deir Yesin and Heart 
Redoubt, where both batteries were subjected to a 
close-range rifle fire. 

For several hours the artillery fought their guns 
with superb courage, and remained in action until 


the fire from the houses was silenced by a brilliant 
infantry attack. At half -past one General Watson 
decided he would attack the enemy on a ridge in 
front of the houses of the Syrian colony with the 
18th and 19th battalions. With them were units of 
other battalions of the Brigade. Soon after three 
o'clock they advanced under heavy fire from guns, 
machine guns, and rifles, and at a quarter to four a 
glorious bayonet charge, during which the London 
boys went through Germans and Turks in one over- 
whelming stride, sealed the fate of the Turk in Jeru- 
salem. That bayonet charge was within sight of 
the Corps Commander, who was with General Shea 
at his look-out on Kustul, and when he saw the 
flash of steel driven home with unerring certainty 
by his magnificent men, General Chetwode may 
well have felt thankful that he had been given such 
troops with which to deliver Jerusalem from the 
Turks. The 74th Division, having taken the whole 
of its first objectives early in the morning and having 
throughout the day supported the left of the London 
Division, was ready to commence operations against 
the second objective. The dismounted yeomanry, 
whose condition through the wet and mud was 
precisely similar to that of the 60th Division troops, 
for they, too, had found the hills barren of shelter 
and equally cold, did extremely well in forcing the 
enemy from his stronghold on the hill covering 
Beit Iksa and the Kulonieh-Jerusalem road, from 
which, had he not been ejected, he could have harassed 
the Londoners' left. The Beit Iksa defences were 
carried by a most determined rush. A gallant 
attempt was also made to get the El Burj ridge which 
rmis south-east from Nebi Samwil, but owing to strong 
enfilade fire from the right they could not get on. 
There was no doubt in any minds that Jerusalem 


would be ours, but the difficulties the 53rd Division 
were contending with had slowed down their advance. 
Thus the right flank of the 60th Division was exposed 
and a considerable body of Turks was known to 
be south of Jerusalem. Late in the afternoon the 
advance was ordered to be stopped, and the positions 
gained to be held. With a view to continuing the 
advance next day the 181st Brigade (2/21st London, 
2/22nd London, 2/23rd London, and 2/24th London) 
was ordered to get into a position of readiness to pass 
through the 179th Brigade and resume the attack on 
the right of the 180th Brigade. On the evening of 
December 8 the position of the attacking force 
was this. The 53rd Division (I will deal presently 
with the advance of this Division) was across the 
Bethlehem-Hebron road from El Keiseraniyeh, two 
miles south of Bethlehem, to Has el Balua in an 
east and west direction, then north-west to the hill 
of Haud Kibriyan with its flank thrown south to 
cover Kh. el Kuseir. The 10th Australian Light 
Horse were at Malhah. The 179th and 180th Bri- 
gades of the 60th Division occupied positions ex- 
tending from Malhah through a line more than a 
mile east of the captured defences west of Jerusalem 
to Lifta, with the 181st Brigade in divisional reserve 
near Kustul. The 229th and 230th Brigades of the 
74th Division held a due north and south line from 
the Jaffa-Jerusalem road about midway between 
Kulonieh and Lifta through Beit Iksa to Nebi Samwil. 
The 53rd Division had not reached their line without 
enormous trouble. But for the two days' rain and 
fog it is quite possible that the whole of the four 
objectives planned by the XXth Corps would have 
been gained, and whether any substantial body of 
Turks could have left the vicinity of Jerusalem by 
either the Nablus or Jericho roads is doubtful. The 


weather proved to be the Turks' ally. The 53rd 
Division battled against it. Until fog came down 
to prevent reconnaissance in an extremely bad bit 
of country they were well up to their march table, 
and in the few clear moments of the afternoon of 
the 7th, Getieral IMott, from the top of Ras esh Sheri- 
feh, a hill 3237 feet high, the most prominent feature 
south of Jerusalem, caught a glimpse of Bethlehem 
and the Holy City. It was only a temporary break 
in the weather, and the fog came down again so 
thick that neither the positions of the Bethlehem 
defences nor those of Beit Jala could be reconnoitred. 
The Division, after withstanding the repeated shocks 
of enemy attacks at Khuweilfeh immediately follow- 
ing the taking of Beersheba, had had a comparatively 
light time watching the Hebron road. They con- 
structed a track over the mountains to get the Divi- 
sion to Dharahiyeh when it should be ordered to 
take part in the attack on the Jerusalem defences, 
and while they were waiting at Dilbeih they did 
much to improve the main road. The famous zig- 
zag on the steep ridge between Dharahiyeh and Dilbeih 
was in good condition, and you saw German thorough- 
ness in the gradients, in the well-banked bends, and 
in the masonry walls which held up the road where 
it had been cut in the side of a hill. It was the most 
difficult part of the road, and the Grermans had taken 
as much care of it as they would of a road in the 
Fatherland — because it was the way by which they 
hoped to get to the Suez Canal. Other portions of 
the road required renewing, and the labour which 
the Welshmen devoted to the work helped the feeding 
of the Division not only during the march to Jeru- 
salem but for several weeks after it had passed through 
it to the hiUs on the east and north-east. The rations 
and stores for this Division were carried by the main 


railway through Shellal to Karm, were thence trans- 
ported by hmber to a point on the Turks' hne to 
Beersheba, which had been repaired but was without 
engines, were next hauled in trucks by mules on 
the railway track, and finally placed in lorries at 
Beersheba for carriage up the Hebron road. At this 
time the capacity of the Latron- Jerusalem road 
was taxed to the utmost, and every bit of the Welsh- 
men's spadework was repaid a hundredfold. The 
159th Brigade got into Hebron on the night of the 
5th of December, but instead of going north of it — 
if they had done so an enemy cavalry patrol would 
have seen them — they set to work to repair the road 
through the old Biblical town, for the enemy had 
blown holes in the highway. Next day the infantry 
had a ten-miles' march and made the wadi Arab, a 
brigade being left in Hebron to watch that area, the 
natives of which were reported as not being wholly 
favourable to us. There were many rifles in the 
place, and a number of unarmed Turks were beheved 
to be in the rough country between the town and 
the Dead Sea ready to return to take up arms. 
Armoured cars also remained in Hebron. The in- 
fantry and field artillery occupied the roads during 
the day, and the heavy guns came along at night 
and joined the infantry as the latter were about to 
set off again. 

On the night of the 6th the Division got to a strong 
line unopposed and saw enemy cavalry on the southern 
end of Sherifeh, on which the Turks had constructed 
a powerful system of defences, the traverses and 
breastworks of which were excellently made. In 
front of the hill the road took a bend to the west, 
and the whole of the highway from this point was 
exposed to the ground in enemy hands south of 
Bethlehem, and it was necessary to make good the 


hills to the east before we could control this road. 
Next moriimg the 7th Cheshires, supported by the 
4th Welsh, deployed and advanced direct on Sherifeh 
and gained the summit soon after dawn in time to 
see small parties of enemy cavalry moving off ; then 
the fog and rain enveloped everything. The 4th 
Welsh held the hill during the night in pouring rain 
with no rations — pack mules could not get up the 
height — and the men having no greatcoats were 
perished with the cold. Colonel Pemberton, their 
CO., came down to report the men all right, and 
asked for no relief till the morning when they could 
be brought back to their transport. The General 
went beyond Solomon's Pools and was withm rifle 
fire from the Turkish trenches in his efforts to re- 
connoitre, but it was impossible to see ahead, and 
instead of being able to begin his attack in the Beit 
Jala-Bethlehem area on the morning of the 8th, that 
morning arrived before any reconnaissance could be 
made. He decided to attack on the high ground of 
Beit Jala (two miles north-west of Bethlehem) from 
the south, to send his divisional cavalry, the West- 
minster Dragoons, on the infantry's left to threaten 
Beit Jala from the west and to refuse Bethlehem. 

Before developing this attack it was essential to 
drive the enemy off the observation post looking 
down upon the main road along which the guns and 
troops had to pass. The fog enabled the guns to 
pass up the road, although the Turks had seven 
mountain guns in the gardens of a big house south of 
Bethlehem and had registered the road to a yard. 
They also had a heavy gim outside the town. The 
weather cleared at intervals about noon, but about 
two o'clock a dense fog came down again and once 
more the advance was held up. Late in the afternoon 
the Welsh Division troops reached the high ground 


west and south-west of Beit Jala, but the defences 
of Bethlehem on the south had still to be taken. 
Advance guards were sent into Bethlehem and Beit 
Jala during the night, and by early morning of the 
9th it was foimd that the enemy had left, and the 
leading brigade pressed on, reaching Mar Elias, midway 
between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, by eleven o'clock, 
and the southern outskirts of Jerusalem an hour later. 
Meanwhile the 60th and 74th Divisions had actively 
patrolled their fronts during the night, and the Turks 
having tasted the quahty of British bayonets made 
no attempt to recover any of the lost positions. We 
had outposts well up the road above Lifta, and at 
haK-past eight they saw a white flag approaching. 
The nearest officer was a commander of the 302nd 
Brigade Royal Field Artillery, to whom the Mayor, 
the head of the Husseiny family, descendants of the 
Prophet and hereditary mayors of Jerusalem, signi- 
fied his desire to surrender the City. The Mayor 
was accompanied by the Chief of Police and two of 
the gendarmerie, and while communications were 
passing between General Shea, General Chetwode and 
General. Headquarters, General Watson rode as far as 
the Jaffa Gate of the Holy City to learn what was 
happening in the town. I believe Major Montagu 
Cooke, one of the officers of the 302nd Artillery 
Brigade, was the first officer actually in the town, and 
I understand that whilst he and his orderly were in 
the Post Office a substantial body of Turks turned 
the corner outside the building and passed down the 
Jericho road quite unconscious of the near presence 
of a British officer. General Shea was deputed by 
the Commander-in-Chief to enter Jerusalem in order 
to accept the surrender of the City. It was a simple 
little ceremony, lastuig but a minute or two, free 
from any display of strength, and a fitting prelude 



to Greneral Allenby's official entry. At half-past 
twelve General Shea, with his aide-de-camp and a 
guard of honour furnished by the 2/1 7th Londons, 
met the Mayor, who formally surrendered the City. 
To the Chief of Pohce General Shea gave instructions 
for the maintenance of order, and guards were placed 
over the pubhc buildings. Then the commander 
of the 60th Division left to continue the direction 
of his troops who were making the Holy City secure 
from Turkish attacks. I believe the official report 
ran : ' Thus at 12.30 the Holy City was surrendered 
for the twenty-third time, and for the first time to 
British arms, and on this occasion without bloodshed 
among the inhabitants or damage to the buildings 
^ the City itself.' 

Simple as was the surrender of Jerusalem, there 
were scenes in the streets during the short half-hour 
of General Shea's visit which reflected the feeling 
of half the civilised world on receiving the news. 
It was a world event. This deliverance of Jeru- 
salem from Turkish misgovernment was bound to 
stir the emotions of Christian, Jewish, and Moslem 
communities in the two hemispheres. In a war in 
which the moral effect of victories was only shghtly 
less important than a big strategical triumph, Jeru- 
salem was one of the strongest possible positions 
for the AUies to win, and it is not making too great 
a claim to say that the capture of the Holy City by 
British arms gave more satisfaction to countless 
miUions of people than did the winning back for France 
of any big town on the Western Front. The latter 
might be more important from a military standpoint, 
but among the people, especially neutrals, it would 
be regarded merely as a passing incident in the ebb and 
flow of the tide of war. Bagdad had an important 
influence on the Eastern mind ; Jerusalem affected 


Christian, Jew, and Moslem alike the world over. 
The War Cabinet regarded the taking of Jerusalem 
by British Imperial troops in so important a light 
that orders were given to hold up correspondents' 
messages and any telegrams the military attaches 
might write until the annomicement of the victory 
had been made to the world by a Minister in the 
House of Commons. This instruction was officially 
commimicated to me before we took Jerusalem, 
and I beheve it was the case that the world received 
the first news when the mouthpiece of the Govern- 
ment gave it to the chosen representatives of the 
British people in the Mother of ParUaments. 

The end of Ottoman dominion over the cradle of 
Christianity, a place held in reverence by the vast 
majority of the peoples of the Old and New World, 
made a deep and abiding impression, and as long as 
people hold dearly to their faiths, sentiment will make 
General Allenby's victory one of the greatest triumphs 
of the war. The reUef of the people of Jerusalem, 
as well as their confidence that we were there to 
stay, manifested itself when General Shea drove into 
the City. The news had gone abroad that the 
General was to arrive about noon, and all Jerusalem 
came into the streets to welcome him. They clapped 
their hands and raised shrill cries of dehght in a 
babel of tongues. Women threw flowers into the 
car and spread palm leaves on the road. Scarcely 
had the Turks left, probably before they had all 
gone and while the guns were still banging outside 
the entrances to Jerusalem, stray pieces of bunting 
which had done duty on many another day were 
hung out to signify the popular pleasure at the end 
of an old, hard, extortionate regime and the beginning 
of an era of happiness and freedom. 

After leaving Jerusalem the enemy took up a 


strong position on the hills north and north-east 
of the City from which he had to be driven before 
Jerusalem was secure from counter-attack. During 
the morning General Chetwode gave orders for a 
general advance to the Une laid down in his original 
plan of attack, which may be described as the pre- 
liminary hne for the defence of Jerusalem. The 
180th and 181st Brigades were already on the move, 
and some of the 53rd Division had marched by the 
main road outside the Holy City's walls to positions 
from which they were to attempt to drive the enemy 
off the Momit of Ohves. The 180th Brigade, fresh 
and strong but stiU wet and muddy, went forward 
rapidly over the boulders on the hiUs east of the 
wadi Beit Hannina and occupied the rugged height 
of Shafat at haK-past one. Shafat is about two 
miles north of Jerusalem. In another half-hour 
they had driven the Turks from the conical top of 
Tel el Ful, that sugar-loaf hill which dominates the 
Nablus road, and which before the end of the year 
was to be the scene of an epic struggle between Lon- 
doner and Turk. The 181st Brigade, on debouching 
from the suburbs of Jerusalem north-east of Lifta, 
was faced with heavy machine-gun and rifle fire on 
the ridge running from the western edge of the Mount 
of Ohves across the Nablus road through Kh. es Salah. 
On the left the 180th Brigade lent support, and at 
four o'clock the 2/21st and 2/24th Londons rushed 
the ridge with the bayonet and drove off the Turks, 
who left seventy dead behind them. The London 
Division that night estabhshed itself on the line from 
a point a thousand yards north of Jerusalem and east 
of the Nablus road through Ras Meshari to Tel el Ful, 
thence w^estwards to the wadi behind the ohve 
orchards south of Beit Hannina. The 74th Division 
reached its objective without violent opposition, and 



its line ran from north of Nebi Samwil to the height 
of Beit Hannina and out towards Tel el Ful. The 
53rd Division was strongly opposed when it got 
round the south-east of Jerusalem on to the Jericho 
road in the direction of Aziriyeh (Bethany), and it 
was necessary to clear the Turks from the Mount of 
OHves. Troops of the Welsh Division moved round 
the Holy City and drove the enemy off the Mount, 
following them down the eastern spurs, and thus 
denied them any direct observation over Jerusalem. 
The next day they pushed the enemy still farther 
eastwards, and by the night of the 10th held the line 
from the well at Azad, 4000 yards south-east of 
Jerusalem, the hill 1500 yards south of Aziriyeh, 
Aziriyeh itself, to the Mount of Olives, whence our 
positions continued to Ras et Tawil, north of Tel el 
Ful across the Nablus road to Nebi Samwil. This 
was our first line of positions for the defence of Jeru- 
salem, and we continued to hold these strong points 
for some time. They were gradually extended on 
the east and north-east by the Welsh Division in 
order to prevent an attack from the direction of 
Jericho, where we knew the Turks had received 
reinforcements. Indeed, during our attack on the 
Jerusalem position the Turks had withdrawn a 
portion of their force on the Hedjaz railway. A 
regiment had passed through Jericho from the Hedjaz 
line at Amman and was marching up the road to 
assist in Jerusalem's defence, but was ' Too late.' 
The regiment was turned back when we had captured 
Jerusalem. Our casualties from November 28 to 
December 10 — these figures include the heavy fighting 
about Tahta, Foka, and Nebi Samwil prior to the 
XXth Corps' attack on the Jerusalem defences — 
were : officers, 21 killed, 64 wounded, 3 missing ; 
other ranks, 247 killed, 1163 wounded, 169 missing, 



a total of 1667. The casualties of the 60th Division 
during the attack on and advance north of Jerusalem 
on December 8-9 are interesting, because they were 
so extremely light considering the strength of the 
defences captured and the difficulties of the ground, 
namely : 8 officers killed and 24 wounded, 98 other 
ranks killed, 420 wounded and 3 missing, a total of 
553. The total for the whole of the XXth Corps on 
these days was 12 officers killed, 35 wounded, and 
137 other ranks killed, 636 wounded and 7 missing 
— in all 47 officers and 780 other ranks. The pris- 
oners taken from November 28 to December 10 were : 
76 officers, 1717 other ranks — total, 1793. On 
December 8 and 9, 68 officers and 918 other ranks — 
986 in all — were captured. The booty included two 
4*2 Krupp howitzers, three 77-mm. field guns and 
carriages, nine heavy and three fight machine guns, 
137 boxes of small-arms ammunition, and 103,000 
loose rounds. 

fl Kufif^'i 

^M 28th. * 29th. i/^ T. :.*••■» •■O fc. 

Mpz)-irat rl Kihllyeh 

lb" Month Pn^Kc'^ ^ 

;ipal Road* Othe-- Roada 

**"•*"" ■♦■ Railways 

■■■ Attack on Jerusalem 
i>— Advance from Jerusalem 

OeOROE Philip & Son. lto 


Jerusalem became supremely happy. 

It had passed through the trials, if not the perils, 
of war. It had been the headquarters and base of 
a Turkish Army. Great bodies of troops were never 
quartered there, but staffs and depots were estab- 
lished in the City, and being in complete control, the 
military paid little regard to the needs of the popu- 
lation. Unfortunately a not inconsiderable section 
of Jerusalem's inhabitants is content to live, not by 
its own handiwork, but on the gifts of charitable re- 
ligious people of all creeds. When war virtually shut 
off Jerusalem from the outer world the lot of the poor 
became precarious. The food of the country, just 
about sufficient for self-support, was to a large extent 
commandeered for the troops, and while prices rose 
the poor could not buy, and either their appeals did 
not reach the benevolent or funds were intercepted. 
Deaths from starvation were numbered by the thou- 
sand, Jews, Christians, and Moslems alike suffering, 
and there were few civilians in the Holy City who 
were not hungry for months at a time. 

When I reached Jerusalem the people were at the 
height of their excitement over the coming of the 
British and they put the best face on their condition, 
but the freely expressed feeling of relief that the days 
of hunger torture were nearly past did not remove 
the signs of want and misery, of infinite suffering by 



father, mother, and child, brought about by a long 
period of starvation. That a people, pale, thin, 
bent, whose movements had become hstless under 
the lash of hunger, could have been stirred mto 
enthusiasm by the appearance of a khaki coat, that 
they could throw off the lethargy which comes of 
acute want, was only to be accounted for by the 
existence of a profound belief that we had been sent 
to dehver them. Some hours before the Official 
Entry I was walking in David Street when a Jewish 
woman, seeing that I was English, stopped me and 
said : ' We have prayed for this day. To-day I shall 
sing " God Save our Gracious King, Long Live our 
Noble King." We have been starving, but what 
does that matter ? Now we are liberated and free.' 
She clasped her hands across her breasts and ex- 
claimed several times, ' Oh how thankful we are.' 
An elderly man in a black robe, whose pinched pale 
face told of a long period of want, caught me by the 
hand and said : ' God has delivered us. Oh how 
happy we are.' An American worker in a Red 
Crescent hospital, who had hved in Jerusalem for 
upwards of ten years and knew the people well, 
assured me there was not one person in the Holy City 
who in his heart was not devoutly thankful for our 
victory. He told me that on the day we captured Nebi 
Samwil three wounded Arab officers were brought 
to the hospital. One of them spoke English — it was 
astonishing how many people could speak our mother 
tongue — and while he was having his wounds dressed 
he exclaimed : ' I can shout Hip - hip - hurrah for 
England now.' The officer was advised to be careful, 
as there were many Turkish wounded in the hospital, 
but he replied he did not care, and in unrestrained 
joy cried out, ' Hurrah for England.' 

The deplorable lot of the people had been made 


harder by profiteering officers. Tliose who had 
money had to part with it for Turkish paper. The 
Turkish note was depreciated to about one-fifth of 
its face value. German officers traded in the notes for 
gold, sent the notes to Germany where, by a financial 
arrangement concluded between Constantinople and 
Berhn, they were accepted at face value. The 
German officer and soldier got richer the more they 
forced Turkish paper down. Turkish officers bought 
considerable supplies of wheat and flour from mihtary 
depots, the cost being debited against their pay 
which was paid in paper. They then sold the goods 
for gold. That accounted for the high prices of 
foodstuffs, the price in gold being taken for the 
market valuation. 

In the middle of November when there was a pros- 
pect of the Turks evacuating Jerusalem, the officers 
sold out their stocks of provisions and prices became 
less prohibitive, but they rose again quickly when it 
was decided to defend the City, and the cost of food 
mounted to almost famine prices. The Turks by 
selling for gold that which was bought for paper, 
rechanging gold for paper at their own prices, made 
huge profits and caused a heavy depreciation of the 
note at the expense of the population. Grain was 
brought from the district east of the Dead Sea, but 
none of it found its way to civilian mouths except 
through the extortionate channel provided by officers. 
Yet when we got into Jerusalem there were people 
with small stocks of flour who were willing to make 
flat loaves of unleavened bread for sale to our troops. 
The soldiers had been living for weeks on hard biscuit 
and bully beef, and many were wiUing to pay a shilling 
for a small cake of bread. They did not know that 
the stock of flour in the town was desperately low 
and that by buying this bread they were almost 


taking it out of the mouths of the poor. Some 
traders were so keen on getting good money, not 
paper, that they tried to do business on this footing, 
looking to the British Ai^my to come to the aid of the 
people. The Army soon put a stop to this trade 
and the troops were prohibited from buying bread 
in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. As it was, the Quarter- 
master-General's branch had to send a large quantity 
of foodstuffs into the towns, and this was done at a 
time when it was a most anxious task to provision 
the troops. Those were very trying days for the 
supply and transport departments, and one wonders 
whether the civilian population ever reahsed the 
extent of the humanitarian efforts of our Army 

During the period when no attempt was made to 
alleviate the lot of the people the Turks gave them 
a number of lessons in frightfulness. There were 
public executions to show the severity of military 
law. Gallows were erected outside the Jaffa Gate 
and the victims were left hanging for hours as a 
warning to the population. I have seen a photo- 
graph of six natives who suffered the penalty, with 
their executioners standing at the swinging feet of 
their victims. Before the first battle of Gaza the 
Turks brought the rich Mufti of Gaza and his son 
to Jerusalem, and the Mufti was hanged in the pres- 
ence of a throng compulsorily assembled to witness 
the execution. The son was shot. Their only crime 
was that they were beheved to have expressed ap- 
proval of Britain's pohcy in dealing with Moslem 
races. Thus were the people terrorised. They knew 
the Turkish ideas of justice, and dared not talk of 
events happening in the town even in the seclusion 
of their homes. The evils of war, as war is practised 
by the Turk, left a mark on Jerusalem's population 


which will be indelible for this generation, despite 
the wondrous change our Army has wrought in the 

When General Allenby had broken through the 
Gaza hne the Turks in Jerusalem despaired of saving 
the City. That all the army papers were brought 
from Hebron on November 10, shows that even at 
that date von Kress still imagined we would come up 
the Hebron road, though he had learnt to his cost that 
a mighty column was moving through the coastal 
sector and that our cavalry were cutting across the 
country to join it. The notorious Enver reached 
Jerusalem from the north on November 12 and went 
down to Hebron. On his return it was reported 
that the Turks would leave Jerusalem, the immediate 
sale of officers' stocks of foodstuffs giving colour to 
the rumour. Undoubtedly some preparations were 
made to evacuate the place, but the temptation to 
hold on was too great. One can see the influence of 
the German mind in the Turkish councils of war. 
At a moment when they were flashing the wireless 
news throughout the world that their Caporetto 
victory meant the driving of Italy out of the war they 
did not want the icy blast of Jerusalem's fall to tell 
of disaster to their hopes in the East. Accordingly 
on the 16th November a new decision was taken and 
Jerusalem was to be defended to the last. German 
officers came hurrying south, lorries were rushed down 
with stores until there were six hundred German lorry 
drivers and mechanics in Jerusalem. Reinforce- 
ments arrived and the houses of the German Colony 
were turned into nests of machine guns. The pains 
the Germans were at to see their plans carried out 
were reflected in the fighting when we tried to get 
across the Jerusalem-Nablus road and to avoid 
fighting in the neighbourhood of the Holy City. 


But all this effort availed them nought. Our dis- 
positions compelled the enemy to distribute his 
forces, and when the attack was launched the Turk 
lacked sufficient men to man his defences adequately. 
And German pretensions in the Holy Land, founded 
upon years of scheming and the formation of settle- 
ments for German colonists approved and supported 
by the Kaiser himself, were shattered beyond hope 
of recovery, as similar pretensions had been shattered 
at Bagdad by General Maude. The Turks had made 
their headquarters at the Hospice of Notre Dame in 
Jerusalem, and, taking their cue from the Hun, 
carried away all the furniture belonging to that 
French rehgious institution. They had also deported 
some of the heads of religious bodies. Falkenhayn 
wished that all Americans should be removed from 
Jerusalem, issuing an order to that effect a fortnight 
before we entered. Some members of the American 
colony had been running the Red Crescent hospital, 
and Turkish doctors who appreciated their good work 
insisted that the Americans should remain. Their 
protest prevailed in most cases, but just as we arrived 
several Americans were carried off. 

I have asked many men who were engaged in the 
fight for Jerusalem what their feelings were on 
getting their first glimpse of the central spot of 
Christendom. Some people imagine that the hard 
brutahties of war erase the softer elements of men's 
natures ; that killing and the rough fife of cam- 
paigning, where one is familiarised with the tragedies 
of life every hour of every day, where ease and 
comfort are forgotten things, remove from the 
mind those earlier lessons of peace on earth and 
goodwill toward men. That is a fallacy. Every 
man or officer I spoke to declared that he was 
seized with emotion when, looking from the shell- 


torn summit of Nebi Samwil, he saw the spires on 
the Mount of Ohves ; or when reconnoitring from 
Kustul he got a peep of the red roofs of the newer 
houses which surround the old City. Possibly only 
a small percentage of the Army believed they were 
taking part in a great mission, not a great proportion 
would claim to be reaUy devout men, but they all 
behaved like Christian gentlemen. One Londoner 
told me he had thought the scenes of war had made 
him callous and that the ruthless destruction of 
those things fashioned by men's hands in prosecuting 
the arts of peace had prompted the feeling that 
there was httle in civilisation after aU, if civilisation 
could result in so bitter a thing as this awful fighting. 
Man seemed as barbaric as in the days before the 
Saviour came to redeem the world, and whether we 
won or lost the war all hopes of a happier state of 
things were futile. So this Cockney imagined that 
his condition showed no improvement on that of 
the savage warrior of two thousand years ago, except 
in that civiHsation had developed finer weapons to 
kill with and be killed by. The finer instincts had 
been blunted by the naked and unashamed horrors 
of war. But the lessons taught him before war 
scourged the world came back to him on getting 
his first view of the Holy City. He felt that sense 
of emotion which makes one wish to be alone and 
think alone. He was on the ground where Sacred 
History was made, perhaps stood on the rock the 
Saviour's foot had trod. In the deep stirring of his 
emotions the rougher edges of his nature became 
rounded by feelings of sympathy and a behef that 
good would come out of the evil of this strife. That 
view of Jerusalem, and the knowledge of what the 
Holy Sites stand for, made him a better man and a 
better fighting man, and he had no doubt the first 


distant glimpse of the Holy City had similarly affected 
the bulk of the Army. That bad language is used 
by almost all troops in the field is notorious, but in 
Jerusalem one seldom heard an oath or an indecent 
word. When Jerusalem was won and small parties 
of our soldiers were allowed to see the Holy City, 
their pohteness to the inhabitants, patriarch or priest, 
trader or beggar, man or woman, rebuked the thought 
that the age of chivalry was past, while the reverent 
attitude involuntarily adopted by every man when 
seeing the Sacred Places suggested that no Crusader 
Army or band of pilgrims ever came to the Holy 
Land imder a more pious influence. Many times 
have I watched the troops of General Allenby in the 
streets of Jerusalem. They bore themselves as 
soldiers and gentlemen, and if they had been selected 
to go there simply to impress the people they could 
not have more worthily upheld the good fame of 
their nation. These soldier missionaries of the Em- 
pire left behind them a record which will be remem- 
bered for generations. 

If it had been possible to consult the British people 
as to the details to be observed at the ceremony of 
the Official Entry into Jerusalem, the vast majority 
would surely have approved General AUenby's pro- 
gramme. Americans tell us the British as a nation 
do not know how to advertise. Our part in the war 
generally proves the accuracy of that statement, 
but the Official Entry into Jerusalem will stand out 
as one great exception. By omitting to make a 
great parade of his victory — one may count elaborate 
ceremonial as advertisement — General Allenby gave 
Britain her best advertisement. The simple, digni- 
fied, and, one may also justly say, humble order of 
ceremony was the creation of a truly British mind. 
To impress the inhabitant of the East things must 


be done on a lavish ostentatious scale, for gold and 
glitter and tinsel go a long way to form a native's 
estimate of power. But there are times when the 
native is shrewd enough to realise that pomp and 
circumstance do not always indicate strength, and 
that dignity is more powerful than display. Contrast 
the German Emperor's visit to Jerusalem with 
General AUenby's Official Entry. The Kaiser brought 
a retinue clothed in white and red, and blue and gold, 
with richly caparisoned horses, and, like a true show- 
man, he himself affected some articles of Arab 
dress. He rode into the Holy City — where One 
before had walked — and a wide breach was even 
made in those ancient walls for a German progress. 
All this to advertise the might and power of 

In parenthesis I may state we are going to restore 
those walls to the condition they were in before 
German hands defiled them. The General who by 
capturing Jerusalem helped us so powerfully to bring 
Germany to her knees and humble her before the 
world, entered on foot by an ancient way, the Jaffa 
Gate, called by the native ' Bab-el-Khahl,' or the 
Friend. In this hallowed spot there was no great 
pageantry of arms, no pomp and panoply, no display 
of the mighty strength of a victorious army, no 
thunderous salutes to acclaim a world-resounding 
victory destined to take its place in the chronicles 
of aU time. There was no enemy flag to haul down 
and no flags were hoisted. There were no soldier 
shouts of triumph over a defeated foe, no bells in 
ancient belfrys rang, no Te Deums were sung, and 
no preacher mounted the rostrum to eulogise the 
victors or to point the moral to the multitude. A 
small, almost meagre procession, consisting of the 
Commander-in-Chief and his Staff, with a guard of 


honour, less than 150 all told, passed tlirough the 
gate unheralded by a single trumpet note ; a purely 
military act with a minimum of military display told 
the people that the old order had changed, yielding 
place to new. The native mind, keen, discerning, 
receptive, understood the meaning and depth of 
this simplicity, and from the moment of high noon 
on December 11, 1917, when General AUenby went 
into the Mount Zion quarter of the Holy City, the 
British name rested on a foundation as certain and 
sure as the rock on which the Holy City stands. 
Right down in the hearts of a people who cHng to 
Jerusalem with the deepest reverence and piety 
there was unfeigned dehght. They reahsed that 
four centuries of Ottoman dominion over the Holy 
City of Christians and Jews, and ' the sanctuary ' of 
Mahomedans, had ended, and that Jerusalem the 
Golden, the central Site of Sacred History, was 
liberated for all creeds from the blighting influence 
of the Turk. And while war had wrought this bene- 
ficent change the population saw in this epoch- 
marking victory a merciful guiding Hand, for it had 
been achieved without so much as a stone of the 
City being scratched or a particle of its ancient dust 
disturbed. The Sacred Monuments and everything 
connected with the Great Life and its teaching were 
passed on untouched by our Army. Rightly did 
the people rejoice. 

When General Allenby went into Jerusalem all 
fears had passed away. The Official Entry was 
made while there was considerable fighting on the 
north and east of the City, where our lines were 
nowhere more than 7000 yards off. The guns were 
firing, the sounds of bursts of musketry were carried 
down on the wind, whilst droning aeroplane engines 
in the deep -blue vault overhead told of our flying 


men denying a passage to enemy machines. The 
stern voices of war were there in aU their harsh 
discordancy, but the people knew they were safe in 
the keeping of British soldiers and came out to make 
holiday. General Allenby motored into the suburbs 
of Jerusalem by the road from Latron which the 
pioneers had got into some sort of order. The busi- 
ness of war was going on, and the General's car took 
its place on the highway on even terms with the lorry, 
which at that time when supplying the front was 
the most urgent task and had priority on the roads. 
The people had put on gala raiment. From the 
outer fringe of Jerusalem the Jaffa road was blocked 
not merely with the inhabitants of the City but with 
people who had followed in the Army's wake from 
Bethlehem. It was a picturesque throng. There 
were sombre-clad Jews of all nationaUties, Armenians, 
Greeks, Russians, and all the peoples who make 
Jerusalem the most cosmopoUtan of cities. To the 
many styles of European dress the brighter robes 
of the East gave vivid colour, and it was obvious 
from the remarkably free and spontaneous expression 
of joy of these people, who at the end of three years 
of war had such strong faith in our fight for freedom, 
that they recognised freedom was permanently won 
to all races and creeds by the victory at Jerusalem. 
The most significant of all the signs was the attitude 
of Moslems. The Turks had preached the Holy War, 
but they knew the hollowness of the cry, and the 
natives, abandoning their natural reserve, joined m 
loud expression of welcome. From flat-topped roofs, 
balconies, and streets there were cries of ' Bravo ! ' 
and ' Hurrah ! ' uttered by men and women who 
probably never spoke the words before, and quite 
close to the Jaffa Gate I saw three old Mahomedans 
clap their hands while tears of joy coursed down their 


cheeks. Their hearts were too full to utter a word. 
There could be no doubt of the sincerity of this 
enthusiasm. The crowd was more demonstrative 
than is usual with popular assembhes in the East, 
but the note struck was not one of jubilation so much 
as of thankfulness at the relief from an insufferable 
bondage of bad government. Outside the Jaffa 
Gate was an Imperial guard of honour drawn from 
men who had fought stoutly for the victory. In the 
British Guard of fifty of all ranks were English, 
Scottish, Irish, and Welsh troops, steel-helmeted and 
carrying the kit they had an hour or two earlier 
brought with them from the front line. Opposite 
them were fifty dismounted men of the AustraHan 
Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted Rifles, the 
AustraUans, under the command of Captain Throssel, 
V.C., being drawn from the 10th Light Horse regiment, 
which had been employed in the capture of Jerusalem 
on the right of the London Division. These Colonial 
troops had earned their place, for they had done the 
work of the vanguard in the Sinai Desert, and their 
victories over the Turks on many a hard-won field 
in the torrid heat of summer had paved the way for 
this greater triumph. A French and an Italian 
guard of honour was posted inside the Jaffa Gate. 
As I have previously said, the Italians had held a 
portion of the line in front of Gaza with a composite 
brigade, but the French troops had not yet been in 
action in Palestine, though their Navy had assisted 
with a battleship in the Gaza bombardment. We 
welcomed the participation of the representatives of 
our Alhes in the Official Entry, as it showed to those 
of their nationaUty in Jerusalem that we were 
fighting the battle of freedom for them all. Outside 
the Jaffa Gate the Commander-in-Chief was received 
by Major-General Borton, who had been appointed 


Military Governor of the City, and a procession 
being formed, General Allenby passed between the 
iron gates to within the City walls. Preceded by 
two aides-de-camp the Commander-in-Chief advanced 
with the commander of the French Palestine detach- 
ment on his right and the commander of the Italian 
Palestine detachment on his left. Four Staff officers 
followed. Then came Brigadier- General Clayton, 
Pohtical Officer; M. Picot, head of the French 
IVIission ; and the French, Italian, and United States 
Military Attaches. The Chief of the General Staff 
(Major - General Sir L. J. Bols) and the Brigadier - 
General General Staff (Brigadier-General G. Dawnay) 
marched slightly ahead of Lieutenant- General Sir 
Philip W. Chetwode, the XXth Corps Commander, 
and Brigadier- General Bartholomew, who was General 
Chetwode' s B.G.G.S. The guard closed in behind. 
That was all. 

The procession came to a halt at the steps of El 
Kala, the Citadel, which visitors to Jerusalem will 
better remember as the entrance to David's Tower. 
Here the Commander-in-Chief and his Staff formed 
up on the steps with the notables of the City behind 
them, to Usten to the reading of the Proclamation in 
several languages. That Proclamation, telUng the 
people they could pursue their lawful business with- 
out interruption and promising that every sacred 
building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional 
site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place 
of prayer of whatsoever form of three of the great 
religions of mankind would be maintained and pro- 
tected according to existing customs and beliefs to 
those to whose faiths they are sacred, made a deep 
impression on the populace. So you could judge 
from the expressions on faces and the frequent 
murmurs of approval, and it was interesting to note 


how, when the procession was being re-formed, many 
Christians, Jews, and Moslems broke away from the 
crowd to run and spread the good news in their 
respective quarters. How faithfully and with what 
scrupulous care our promises have been kept the 
rehgious communities of Jerusalem can tell. 

The procession next moved into the old Turkish 
barrack square less than a hundred yards away, where 
General Allenby received the notables of the City 
and the heads of religious communities. The Mayor 
of Jerusalem, who unfortunately died of pneumonia 
a fortnight later, and the Mufti, who, like the Mayor, 
was a member of a Mahomedan family which traces 
its descent back through many centuries, were pre- 
sented, as were also the sheikhs in charge of the 
Mosque of Omar, ' the Tomb of the Rock,' and the 
Mosque of El Aksa, and Moslems belonging to the 
Khaldieh and Alamieh families. The Patriarchs of 
the Latin, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Churches 
and the Coptic bishop had been removed from the 
Holy City by the Turks, but their representatives 
were introduced to the Commander-in-Chief, and so 
too were the heads of Jewish commimities, the Syriac 
Church, the Greek Catholic Church, the Abyssinian 
bishop, and the representative of the AngUcan Church. 
A notable presentation was the Spanish Consul, who 
had been in charge of the interests of almost all 
countries at war, and whom General Allenby con- 
gratulated upon being so busy a man. The presenta- 
tions over, the Commander-in-Chief returned to the 
Jaffa Gate and left for advanced General Head- 
quarters, having been in the Holy City not more than 
a quarter of an hour. 

For succinctness it would be difficult to improve 
upon the Commander-in-Chief's own description of 
his Official Entry into Jerusalem. Cabhng to London 


witHin two hours of that event, General Allenby thus 
narrated the events of the day : 

(1) At noon to-day I officially entered this City with a 
few of my Staff, the commanders of the French and Itahan 
detachments, the heads of the Picot Mission, and the Mili- 
tary Attaches of France, Italy, and the United States of 

The procession was all on foot. 

I was received by Guards representing England, Scotland, 
Ireland, Wales, AustraHa, India, New Zealand, France, and 
Italy at the Jaffa Gate. 

(2) I was well received by the population. 

(3) The Holy Places have had Guards placed over 

(4) My MiHtary Governor is in touch with the Acting 
Gustos of Latins, and the Greek representative has been 
detailed to supervise Christian Holy Places. 

(5) The Mosque of Omar and the area rotind it has been 
placed under Moslem control and a mihtary cordon composed 
of Indian Mahomedan officers and soldiers has been estab- 
hshed round the Mosque. Orders have been issued that 
without permission of the Mihtary Governor and the Moslem 
in charge of the Mosque no non-Moslem is to pass this 

(6) The Proclamation has been posted on the walls, and 
from the steps of the Citadel was read in my presence to the 
population in Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, Itahan, 
Greek, and Russian. 

(7) Guardians have been established at Bethlehem and on 
Rachel's Tomb. The Tomb of Hebron has been placed 
under exclusive Moslem control. 

(8) The hereditary custodians of the Wakfs at the Gates 
of the Holy Sepulchre have been requested to take up their 
accustomed duties in remembrance of the magnanimous act 
of the Caliph Omar who protected that Church. 

As a matter of historical interest I give in the 
Appendix the orders issued on the occasion of the 



Official Entry into Jerusalem, the order of Greneral 
Allenby's procession into the Holy City for the read- 
ing of the Proclamation, together with the text of 
that historic document, and the special orders of the 
day issued by the Commander-in-Chief to his troops 
after the capture of Jerusalem.^ 

* See Appendix vii. 



General Allenby within two days of capturing 
Jerusalem had secured a line of high ground which 
formed an excellent defensive system, but his XXth 
Corps Staff was busy with plans to extend the defences 
to give the Holy City safety from attack. Nothing 
could have had so damaging an influence on our 
prestige in the East, which was growing stronger 
every day as the direct result of the immense success 
of the operations in Palestine, as the recapture of 
Jerusalem by the Turks. We thought the wire- 
pulling of the German High Command would have 
its effect in the war councils of Turkey, and seeing 
that the regaining of the prize would have such far- 
reaching effect on pubhc opinion no one was surprised 
that the Germans prevailed upon their ally to make 
the attempt. It was a hopeless failure. The attack 
came at a moment when we were ready to launch a 
scheme to secure a second and a third hne of defences 
for Jerusalem, and gallantly as the Turks fought — 
they delivered thirteen powerful attacks against our 
line on the morning of December 27 — the venture 
had a disastrous ending, and instead of reaching 
Jerusalem the enemy had to yield to British arms 
seven miles of most valuable country and gave us, 
in place of one line, four strong lines for the defence 
of the Holy City. By supreme judgment, when the 
Turks had committed themselves to the attack on 
Tel el Ful, without which they could not move a yard 



on the Nablus road, General Chetwode started his 
operations on the left of his line with the 10th and 
74th Divisions, using his plan as it had been prepared 
for some days to seize successive hnes of hills, and 
compelled the enemy, in order to meet this attack, 
to divert the fresh division held in waiting at Bireh 
to throw forward into Jerusalem the moment the 
storming troops should pierce our hne. With the 
precision of clockwork the Irish and dismounted 
yeomanry divisions seciu-ed their objectives, and 
on the second day of the fighting we regained the 
initiative and compelled the Turks to conform to our 
dispositions. On the fourth day we were on the 
Ramallah-Bireh line and secured for Jerusalem an 
impregnable defence. Prisoners told us that they 
had been promised, as a reward for their hoped-for 
success, a day in Jerusalem to do as they hked. We 
can imagine what the situation in the Holy City 
would have been had our line been less true. The 
Londoners who had won the City saved it. Probably 
only a few of the inhabitants had any knowledge 
of the danger the City was in on December 27. Their 
confidence in the British troops had grown and 
could scarcely be stronger, but some of them were 
alarmed, and throughout the early morning and day 
they knelt on housetops earnestly praying that our 
soldiers would have strength to withstand the Turkish 
onslaughts. From that day onward the sound of the 
guns was less violent, and as our artillery advanced 
northwards the people's misgivings vanished and they 
reproached themselves for their fears. 

It will be remembered how the troops of the XXth 
Corps were disposed. The 53rd Division held the 
Hne south-east and east of Jerusalem from Bir Asad 
through Abu Dis, Bethany, to north of the Mount 
of Ohves, whence the 60th Division took it up from 


Meshari, east of Shaiat to Tel el Ful and to Beit 
Hannina across the Jerusalem-Nablus road. The 
74th Division carried on to Nebi Samwil, Beit Izza 
to Beit Dukku, with the 10th Division on their left 
through Foka, Tahta to Suffa, the gap between the 
XXth Corps to the right of the XXIst Corps being 
held by the 3rd Austrahan Light Horse Brigade of 
the Austrahan Mounted Division. Against us were 
the 27th Turkish Division and the 7th and 27th 
cavalry regiments south of the Jericho road, with 
the 26th, 53rd, 19th, and 24th Divisions on the north 
of that road and to the west of the Jerusalem-Nablus 
road, one division being in reserve at Bireh, the 
latter a new division fresh from the Caucasus. The 
6th and 8th Turkish cavalry regiments were facing 
our extreme left, the estimated strength of the enemy 
in the Une being 14,700 rifles and 2300 sabres. Just 
as it was getting dark on December 11 a party of 
the enemy attacked the 179th Brigade at Tel el Ful 
but were repulsed. There was not much activity 
the following day, but the 53rd Division began a 
series of minor operations by which they secured 
some features of tactical importance. On the 13th 
the 181st Brigade made a dashing attack on Ras 
el Kharrabeh and secured it, taking 43 prisoners 
and two machine guns, with 31 casualties to 

It was about this time the Corps Commander 
framed plans for the advance of our front north of 
Jerusalem. There had been a few days of fine 
weather, and a great deal had been done to improve 
the condition of the roads and communications. 
An army of Egyptian labourers had set to work on 
the Enab-Jerusalem road and from the villages had 
come strong reinforcements of natives, women as 
well as men (and the women did quite as much work 


as the men), attracted by the unusual wage payable 
in cash. In Jerusalem, too, the natives were sent 
to labour on the roads and to clean up some of the 
filth that the Turks had allowed to accumulate for 
years, if not for generations, inside the Holy City. 
The Army not merely provided work for idle hands 
but enabled starving bodies to be vitaHsed. Food 
was brought into Jerusalem, and w^ith the cash wages 
old and young labourers could get more than a 
sufficiency. The native in the hills proved to be a 
good road repairer, and the boys and women showed 
an eagerness to earn their daily rates of pay ; the 
men generally looked on and gave directions. It 
was some time before steam roUers crushed in the 
surface, but even rammed-in stones were better than 
mud, and the lorry drivers' tasks became lighter. 

Greneral Chetwode's plan was to secure a line from 
Obeid, 9000 yards east of Bethlehem, the hill of 
Zamby covering the Jericho road three miles from 
Jerusalem, Anata, Hismeh, Jeba, Burkah, Beitun, 
El Balua, Kh. el Burj, Deir Ibzia to Shilta. The 
scheme was to strike with the 53rd and 60th Divisions 
astride the Jerusalem-Nablus road, and at the same 
time to push the 10th Division and a part of the 74th 
Division eastwards from the neighbourhood of Tahta 
and Foka. The weather again became bad on Decem- 
ber 14 and the troops suffered great discomfort from 
heavy rains and violent, cold winds, so that only 
light operations were undertaken. On the 17th the 
West Kent and Sussex battalions of the 160th Brigade 
stalked the high ground east of Abu Dis at dawn, 
and at the cost of only 26 casualties took the ridge 
with 5 officers and 121 other ranks prisoners, and 
buried 46 enemy dead. One battalion went up the 
hill on one side, while the Sussex crept up the 
opposite side, the Turks being caught between two 


fires. The 53rd Division also improved their position 
on the 21st December. As one leaves Bethany and 
proceeds down the Jericho road one passes along a 
steep zigzag with several hairpin bends until one 
reaches a guardhouse near a well about a mile east 
of Bethany. The road still falls smartly, following 
a straighter hne close to a wadi bed, but hills rise 
very steeply from the highway, and for its whole 
length until it reaches the Jordan valley the road 
is always covered by high bare mountains. Soon 
after leaving the zigzag there is a series of three hiUs 
to the north of the road. It was important to obtain 
possession of two of these hills, the first called Zamby 
and the second named by the Welsh troops ' White- 
hill,' from the bright limestone outcrop at the crest. 
The 159th Brigade attacked and gained Zamby and 
then turned nearer the Jericho road to capture White- 
hill. The Turks resisted very stoutly, and there was 
heavy fighting about the trenches just below the top 
of the hill. By noon the brigade had driven the 
enemy off, but three determined counter-attacks 
were dehvered that day and the next and the brigade 
lost 180 kiUed and wounded. The Turks suffered 
heavily in the counter-attacks and left over 50 dead 
behind them ; also a few prisoners. At a later date 
there was further strong fighting around this hill, and 
at one period it became impossible for either side to 
hold it. 

By the 21st there was a readjustment of the line 
on the assumption that the XXth Corps would 
attack the Turks on Christmas Day, the 53rd Division 
taking over the line as far north as the wadi Anata, the 
60th Division extending its left to include Nebi 
Samwil, and the 74th going as far west as Tahta. 
As a prehminary to the big movement the 180th 
Brigade was directed to move on Kh. Adaseh, a hill 


between Tel el Ful and Tawil, in the early hours of 
December 23, and the 181st Brigade was to seize a 
height about half a mile north of Beit Hannina. 
The latter attack succeeded, but despite the most 
gallant and repeated efforts the 180th Brigade was 
unable to gain the summit of Adaseh, though they 
got weU up the hill. The weather became bad once 
more, and meteorological reports indicated no im- 
provement in the conditions for at least twenty-four 
hours, and as the moving forward of artillery and 
supplies was impossible in the rain. General Chetwode 
with the concurrence of G.H.Q. decided that the 
attack should not be made on Christmas Day. The 
60th Division thereupon did not further prosecute 
their attack on Adaseh. On the 24th December, 
while General Chetwode was conferring with his 
divisional commanders, information was brought in 
that the Turks were making preparations to re- 
capture Jerusalem by an attack on the 60th Division, 
and the Corps Commander decided that the moment 
the enemy was found to be fully committed to this 
attack the 10th Division and one brigade of the 
74th Division would fall on the enemy's right and ad- 
vance over the Zeitun, Kereina, and Ibzia ridges. 
How well this plan worked out was shown before 
the beginning of the New Year, by which time we 
had secured a great depth of ground at a cost in- 
finitely smaller than could have been expected if 
the Turks had remained on the defensive, while 
the Turkish losses, at a moment when they required 
to preserve every fighting man, were much greater 
than we could have hoped to inflict if they had not 
come into the open. There was never a fear that the 
enemy would break through. We had commanding 
positions everywhere, and the more one studied our 
line on the chain of far-flung hills the more clearly 



" o 
5 o 


one realised the prevision and military skill of 
General Chetwode and the staff of the XXth Corps 
in preparing the plans for its capture before the 
advance on Jerusalem was started. The ' fourth 
objective ' of December 8-9 well and truly laid the 
foundations for Jerusalem's security, and reUeved 
the inhabitants from the accumulated burdens of 
more than three years of war. We had nibbled at 
pieces of ground to flatten out the line here and there, 
but in the main the line the Turks assaulted was that 
fourth objective. The Turks put all their hopes on 
their last card. It was trumped ; and when we had 
won the trick there was not a soldier in General 
Allenby's Army nor a civilian in the Holy City who 
had not a profound beUef in the coming downfall 
of the Turkish Empire. 

Troops in the hne and in bivouac spent the most 
cheerless Christmas Day within their memories. 
Not only in the storm- swept hills but on the Plain 
the day was bitterly cold, and the gale carried with 
it heavy rain clouds which passed over the tops of 
mountams and rolled up the valleys in ceaseless 
succession, discharging hail and rain in copious 
quantities. The wadis became roaring, tearing tor- 
rents fed by hundreds of tributaries, and men who 
had sought shelter on the lee side of rocks often 
found water pouring over them in cascades. The 
whole country became a sea of mud, and the trials 
of many months of desert sand were grateful and 
comforting memories. Transport columns had an 
unhappy time ; the Hebron road was showing many 
signs of wear, and it was a long journey for lorries 
from Beersheba when the retaining walls were giving 
way and a foot-deep layer of mud invited a sldd 
every yard. The Latron-Jerusalem road was better 
going, but the soft metal laid down seemed to melt 


under the unceasing traffic in the wet, and in peace 
time this highway would have been voted unfit for 
traffic. Tlie worst piece of road, however, was also 
the most important. Tlie Nablus road where it 
leaves Jerusalem was wanted to supply a vital point 
on our front. It could not be used during the day 
because it was under observation, and anything 
moving along it was liberally dosed with sheUs. 
Nor could its deplorable condition be improved by 
working parties. The ground was so soft on either 
side of it that no gun, ammunition, or supply limber 
could leave the track, and whatever was required 
for man, or beast, or artillery had to be carried across 
the road in the pitch-black hours of night. Supplies 
were only got up to the troops after infinite labour, 
yet no one went hungry. Boxing Day was brighter, 
and there were hopes of a period of better weather. 
During the morning there were indications that 
an enemy offensive was not far off, and these were 
confirmed about noon by information that the front 
north of Jerusalem would be attacked in the night. 
General Chetwode thereupon ordered General Longley 
to start his offensive on the left of the XXth Corps 
line at dawn next morning. Shortly before midnight 
the Turks began their operations against the line 
held by the 60th Division across the Nablus road 
precisely where it had been expected. They attacked 
in considerable strength at Ras et Tawil and about 
the quarries held by our outposts north of that hill, 
and the outposts were driven in. About the same 
time the 24th Welsh Regiment — dismounted yeo- 
manry — made the enemy realise that we were on the 
alert, for they assaulted and captured a hill quite close 
to Et Tireh, just forestalling an attack by a Turkish 
storming battalion, and beat off several determined 
counter-attacks, as a result of which the enemy left 


seventy killed with the bayonet and also some 
machine guns on the hill slopes. 

The night was dark and misty, and by half-past 
one the Turks had developed a big attack against 
the whole of the 60th Division's front, the strongest 
effort being delivered on the line in front of Tel el Ful, 
though there was also very violent fighting on the 
west of the wadi Ed Dunn, north of Beit Hannina. 
The Turks fought with desperate bravery. They 
had had no food for two days, and the commander 
of one regiment told his men : ' There are no English 
in front of you. I have been watching the enemy 
lines for a long time ; they are held by Egyptians, 
and I tell you there are no English there. You have 
only to capture two hills and you can go straight 
into Jerusalem and get food. It is our last chance 
of gettmg Jerusalem, and if we fail we shall have to 
go back.' This officer gave emphatic orders that 
British wounded were not to be mutilated. Between 
half -past one and eight a.m. the Turks attacked in 
front of Tel el Ful eight times, each attack being 
stronger than the last. Tel el Ful is a conical hill 
covered with huge boulders, and on the top is a mass 
of rough stones and ruined masonry. The Turks 
had registered well and severely shelled our position 
before making an assault, and they covered the ad- 
vance with machine guns. In one attack made just 
after daybreak the enemy succeeded in getting into 
a short length of line, but men of the 2/1 5th Londons 
promptly organised a counter-attack and, advan- 
cing with fine gallantry, though their ranks were 
thinned by a tremendous enfilade fire from artillery 
and machine guns, they regained the sangars. For 
several hours after eight o'clock this portion of the 
Une was quieter, but the Turk was reorganising for 
a last effort. A very brilliant defence had been 


made during the night of Beit Hannina by the 2/24th 
Londons, which battahon was commanded by a 
captain, the colonel and the majors being on the sick 
list. The two companies in the line were attacked 
four times by superior numbers, the last assault 
being delivered by more than five hundred men, but 
the defenders stood like rocks, and though they had 
fifty per cent, of their number killed or wounded, 
and the Turks got close to the trenches, the enemy 
were crushingly defeated. 

The morning lull was welcome. Our troops got 
some rest though their vigilance was unrelaxed, and 
few imagined that the Turks had yet given up the 
attempt to reach Jerusalem. We were ready to 
meet a fresh effort, but the strength with which it 
was dehvered surprised everybody. The Turk, it 
seemed, was prepared to stake everything on his 
last throw. He knew quite early on that morning 
that his Caucasus Division could not carry out the 
role assigned to it. General Chetwode had countered 
him by smashing in with his left with a beautiful 
weighty stroke precisely at the moment when the 
Turk had compromised himself elsewhere, and instead 
of being able to put in his reserves to support his 
main attack the enemy had to divert them to stave 
off an advance which, if unhindered, would threaten 
the vital communications of the attackers north of 

It w^as a remarkable situation, but all the finesse 
in the art of war was on one side. Every message 
the Turkish Commander received from his right 
must have reported progress against him. Each 
signal from the Jerusalem front must have been 
equally bitter, summing up want of progress and 
heavy losses. With us, Time was a secondary factor ; 
with the Turk, Time was the whole essence of the 


business, so he pledged his all on one tremendous 
final effort. It was almost one o'clock when it 
started, and it was made against the whole front of 
our XXth Corps. It was certainly made in un- 
expected strength and with a courage beyond praise. 
The Turk threw himself forward to the assault with 
the violence of despair, and his impetuous onrush 
enabled him to get into some small elements of our 
front line; but counter-attacks immediately organ- 
ised drove him out. Over the greater portion of 
the front the advance was stopped dead, but in 
some places the enemy tried a whirlwind rush and 
used bomb against bomb. He had met his match. 

The 60th Division which bore the brunt of the on- 
slaught, as it was bound to do from its position astride 
the main road, was absolutely unbreakable, and at 
Tel el Ful there lay a dead Turk for every yard of 
its front. The enemy drew off, but to save the rem- 
nants of his storming troops kept our positions from 
near Ras et Tawil, Tel el Ful to the wadi Beit Hannina 
under heavy gunfire for the rest of the day. The 
Turk was hopelessly beaten, his defeat irretrievable. 
He had delivered thirteen costly attacks, and his 
sole gains were the exposed outpost positions at 
the Tawil and the quarries. All his reserves had 
been vigorously engaged, while at two o'clock m the 
afternoon General Chetwode had in reserve nineteen 
battahons less one company still unused, and the 
care exercised in keeping this large body of troops 
fresh for following up the Turkish defeat undoubtedly 
contributed to the great success of the advances 
on the next three days. Simultaneously with their 
attack on the 60th Division positions the Turks put 
in a weighty effort to oust the 53rd Division from the 
positions they held north and south of the Jericho 
road. Whether in their wildest dreams they imagined 


they could enter Jerusalem by this route is doubtful, 
but if they had succeeded in driving in our line on 
the north they would have put the 53rd Division in 
a perilous position on the east with only one avenue 
of escape. The Turks concentrated their efforts on 
Whitehill and Zamby. A great fight raged round 
the former height and we were driven off it, but the 
divisional artillery so sprinkled the crest with shell 
that the Turk could not occupy it, and it became 
No Man's Land until the early evening when the 
7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers recaptured and held it. 
The contest for Zamby lasted all day, and for a long 
time it was a battle of bombs and machine guns, so 
closely together were the fighting men, but the Turks 
never got up to our sangars and were finally driven 
off with heavy loss, over 100 dead being left on the 
hill. The Turkish ambulances were seen hard at 
work on the Jericho road throughout the day. There 
was a stout defence of a detached post at Ibn Obeid. 
A company of the 2/lOth Middlesex Regiment had 
been sent on to Obeid, about five miles east of Beth- 
lehem, to watch for the enemy moving about the 
rough tracks in that bare and broken country which 
falls away in jagged hills and sinuous valleys to the 
Dead Sea. The little garrison, whose sole shelter 
was a ruined monastic building on the hill, were 
attacked at dawn by 700 Turkish cavalry supported 
by mountain guns. The garrison stood fast all day 
though practically surrounded, and every attack 
was beaten off. The Turks tried again and again 
to secure the hill, which commands a track to Beth- 
lehem, but, although they fired 400 shells at the 
position, they could not enter it, and a battalion 
sent up to reheve the Middlesex men next morning 
found that the company had driven the enemy off, 
its casualties having amounted to only 2 killed and 


17 wounded. Thus did the ' Die Hards ' live up to 
the traditions of the regiment. 

Having dealt with the failure of the Turkish 
attacks against the 60th and 53rd Divisions in front 
of Jerusalem, let us change our view point and focus 
attention on the left sector of XXth Corps, where 
the enemy was feeling the full power of the Corps 
at a time when he most wished to avoid it. General 
Longley had organised his attacking columns in 
three groups. On the right the 229th Brigade of 
the 74th Division was set the task of moving from 
the wadi Imeish to secure the high ground of Bir esh 
Shafa overlooking Beitunia ; the 31st Brigade, start- 
ing from near Tahta, attacked north of the wadi Sunt, 
to drive the enemy from a hne from Jeriut through 
Hafy to the west of the oUve orchards near Ain Arik ; 
while the left group, composed of the 29th and 30th 
Brigades, aimed at getting Shabuny across the wadi 
Sad, and Sheikh Abdallah where they would have 
the AustraUan Mounted Division on their left. The 
advance started from the left of the Hne. The 29th 
Brigade leading, with the 30th Brigade in support, 
left their positions of deployment at six o'clock, by 
which time the Turk had had more than he had 
bargained for north and east of Jerusalem. The 
1st Leinsters and 5th Connaught Rangers found the 
enemy in a stubborn mood west of Deir Ibzia, but 
they broke down the opposition in the proper Irish 
style and rapidly reached their objectives. The 
centre group started one hour after the left and got 
their line without much difficulty. The right group 
was hotly opposed. Beginning their advance at 
eight o'clock the 229th Brigade had reached the 
western edge of the famous Zeitun ridge in an hour, 
but from this time onwards they were exposed to 
incessant artillery and machine-gun fire, and the 


forward movement became very slow. In five hours 
small parties had worked along the ridge for about 
half its length, fighting every yard, and it was not 
until the approach of dusk that we once more got 
control of the whole ridge. It was appropriate that 
dismomited yeomen should gain this important 
tactical point which several weeks previously had 
been won and lost by their comrades of the Yeomaiu-y 
Mounted Division. Descendmg from the ridge the 
brigade gave the Turk httle chance to stand, and 
with a bayonet charge they reached the day's ob- 
jective in the dark. At two o'clock, when the Turks' 
final effort against Jerusalem had just failed, the 
60th and 74th Divisions both sent in the good news 
that the Turkish commander was moving his reserve 
division from Bireh westwards to meet the attack 
from our left. Airmen confirmed this immediately, 
and it was now obvious that General Chetwode's 
tactics had compelled the enemy to conform to his 
movements and that we had regained the initiative. 
At about ten o'clock the 24th Ro3^al Welsh Eusihers 
of the 231st Brigade captured Kh. ed Dreihemeh on 
the old Roman road a mile east of Tireh, and at 
eleven o'clock advanced to the assault of hill 2450, 
a httle farther eastward. They gained the crest, 
but the enemy had a big force in the neighbourhood 
and counter-attacked, forcing the Welshmen to with- 
draw some distance down the western slope. They 
held this ground till 4.30 when our guns heavily 
bombarded the summit, mider cover of which fire 
the infantry made another attack. This was also 
unsuccessful owing to the intense volume of fire from 
machine guns. The hill was won, however, next 

The night of December 27-28 w^as without incident. 
The Turk had staked and lost, and he spent the night 


in making new dispositions to meet what he must 
have reahsed was being prepared for him on the 
following day. 

It is doubtful whether there was a more successful 
day for our Army in the Palestine campaign than 
December 27. The portion of our line which was 
on the defensive had stood an absolutely unmovable 
wall, against which the enemy had battered himself 
to pieces. Our left, or attacking sector, had gained 
all their objectives against strong opposition in a 
most difficult country, and had drawn against them 
the very troops held in reserve for the main attack 
on Jerusalem. The physical powers of some of our 
attacking troops were tried highly. One position 
captured by the 229th Brigade was a particularly 
bad hiU. The slope up which the infantry had to 
advance was a series of almost perpendicular terraces, 
and the riflemen could only make the ascent by 
climbing up each others' backs. When dismounted 
yeomen secured another hill some men carrying up 
suppUes took two hours to walk from the base of the 
hill to the summit. The trials of the infantry were 
shared by the artillery. What surprises every one 
who has been over the route taken by the 10th and 
74th Divisions is that any guns except those with 
the mountain batteries were able to get into action. 
The road work of engineers and the 5th Royal Irish 
Regiment (Pioneers) was magnificent, and they made 
a way where none seemed possible ; but though 
these roadmakers put their backs into their tasks, 
it was only by the untiring energies of the gimners 
and drivers that artillery was got up to support the 
infantry. The guns were brought into action well 
ahead of the roads, and were man-hauled for consider- 
able distances. Two howitzers and one field gun 
were kept up with the infantry on the first day of 



the advance where no horses could get a foothold, 
and the manner in which the gunners hauled the 
guns through deep ravines and up seemingly unclimb- 
able hills constituted a wonderful physical achieve- 
ment. The artillery were called upon to continue 
their arduous work on the 28th and 29th under con- 
ditions of ground which were even more appalling 
than those met with on the 27th. The whole country 
was devoid of any road better than a goat track, and 
the ravines became deeper and the hills more pre- 
cipitous. In some places, particularly on the 10th 
Division front, the infantry went forward at a 
remarkable pace ; but guns moved up with them, 
and by keeping down the fire of machine guns dotted 
about on every hill, performed services which ei^rned 
the riflemen's warm praise. The 9th and 10th 
Mountain Batteries were attached to the 10th Divi- 
sion, but field and howitzer batteries were also well 
up. On the 28th the 53rd Division bit farther into 
the enemy's line in order to cover the right of the 
60th Division, which was to continue its advance 
up the Nablus road towards Bireh. The 158th 
Brigade captured Anata, and after fighting all day 
the l/7th Royal Welsh Fusihers secured Ras Urkub 
es SufEa, a forbidding-looking height towering above 
the storm-rent sides of the wadi Ruabeh. The 1/lst 
Herefords after dark took Kh. Almit. 

In front of the 60th Division the Turks were still 
holding some strong positions from which they should 
have been able seriously to delay the Londoners' 
advance had it not been for the threat to their com- 
munications by the pressure by the 10th and 74th 
Divisions. The Londoners had previously tested the 
strength of Adaseh, and had found it an extremely 
troublesome hill. They went for it again — the 179th 
Brigade this time — and after a several hours' struggle 


took it at dusk. Meanwhile the 181st Brigade had 
taken the lofty villages of Bir Nebala and El Jib, and 
after Adaseh became ours the Division went ahead 
in the dark and got to the line across the Nablus road 
from Er Ram to Rafat, capturing some prisoners. 
The 74th Division also made splendid progress. In 
the early hours the Division, with the 24th Royal 
Welsh Fusiliers and the 24th Welsh Regiment at- 
tached, secured Juf eir and resumed their main advance 
in the afternoon, the 230th and 231st Brigades co- 
operating with the 229th Brigade which was under 
the orders of the 10th Division. Before dark they 
had advanced their line from the left of the 60th 
Division in Rafat past the east of Beitunia to the hill 
east of Abu el Ainein, and this strong line of hills 
once secured, everybody was satisfied that the Turks' 
possession of Ramallah and Bireh was only a question 
of hours. Part of this line had been won by the 
10th Division, which began its advance before noon 
in the same battle formation as on the 27th. Soon 
after the three groups started the heavy artillery 
put down a fierce fire on the final objectives, and 
before three o'clock the Turks were seen to be evacu- 
ating Kefr Skyan, Ainein, and Rubin. The enemy 
put up a stout fight at Beitunia and on a hill several 
hundred yards north-west of the village, but the 
229th Brigade had good artillery and machine-gun 
assistance, and got both places before four o'clock, 
capturing seventy prisoners, including the commander 
of the garrison, and a number of machine guns. The 
left group was hotly opposed from a hill a mile west 
of Rubin and from a high position south-west of 
Ainein. The nature of the ground was entirely 
favourable to defence and for a time the Turk took 
full advantage of it, but our artillery soon made him 
lose his stomach for fighting, and doubtless the sound 


of many shell -bursts beyond Ramallah made him 
think that his rock sangars and the deep ravines in 
front of him were not protection against a foe who 
fought Nature with as much determination as he 
fought the Turkish soldier. Six-inch howitzers of 
the 378th Siege Battery had been brought up to 
Foka in the early hours, and all the afternoon and 
evening they were plastering the road from Ramallah 
along which the enemy were retreating. The left 
group defied the nests of machine guns hidden among 
the rocks and broke down the defence. The centre 
group had been delayed by the opposition encoun- 
tered by the left, but they took Skyan at six o'clock 
and all of the objectives for one day were in our 
hands by the early evening. An advance along the 
whole front was ordered to begin at six o'clock on 
December 29. On his right flank the enemy was 
willing to concede ground, and the 159th Brigade 
occupied Hismeh, Jeba, and the ridges to the north- 
west to protect the flank of the 60th Division. The 
53rd Division buried 271 enemy dead on their front 
as the result of three days' fighting. The 181st 
Brigade made a rapid advance up the Nablus road 
until they were close to Bireh and Tahunah, a high 
rocky hiU just to the north-west of the village. The 
Turks had many machine guns and a strong force 
of riflemen in these places, and it was impossible 
for infantry to advance against them over exposed 
ground without artillery support. The 303rd Field 
Artillery Brigade was supporting the brigade, and 
they were to move up a track from KuUundia while 
the foot-sloggers used the high road, but the track 
was found impassable for wheels and the guns had 
to be brought to the road. The attack was post- 
poned till the guns were in position. The gunners 
came into action at half-past two, and infantry 


moved to the left to get on to the Ramallah-Bireh 
metalled road which runs at right angles to the trmik 
road between Nablus and Jerusalem. The 2/22nd 
and the 2/23rd Londons, working across the road, 
reached the Tahunah ridge, and after a heavy bom- 
bardment dashed into the Turkish positions, which 
were defended most stubbornly to the end, and thus 
won the last remaining hill which commanded our 
advance up the Nablus road as far as Bireh. On the 
eastern side of the main highway the 180th Brigade 
had once more done sterling service. There is a bold 
eminence called Shab Saleh, a mile due south of Bireh. 
It rises almost sheer from a piece of comparatively 
flat ground, and the enemy held it in strength. The 
2/1 9th and the 2/20th Londons attacked this feature, 
and displaying great gallantry in face of much 
machine-gun fire seized it at half-past three. Once 
again the gunners supported the infantry admirably. 
The 2/1 7th and 2/1 8th Londons pushed past Saleh 
in a north-easterly direction and, leaving Bireh on 
their left, got into extremely bad country and took 
the Turks by surprise on a wooded ridge at Sheikh 
Sheiban. The two brigades rested and refreshed 
for a couple of hours and then advanced once more, 
and by midnight they had routed the Turks out of 
another series of hills and were in firm possession 
of the line from Beitin, across the Nablus road north 
of the Balua Lake, to the ridge of El Burj, having 
carried through everything which had been planned 
for the Division. 

RamaUah had been taken at nine o'clock in the 
morning without opposition by the 230th and 229th 
Brigades, and at night the 74th Division held a strong 
fine north of the picturesque village as far as Et Tireh. 
The 10th Division also occupied the Tireh ridge quite 
early in the day, and one of their field batteries and 


both mountain batteries got within long range of 
the Nablus road, and not only assisted in shelling the 
enem}^ in Bireh but harassed with a hot fire any 
bodies of men or transport seen retreating northwards. 
The Flying Corps, too, caused the Turks many losses 
on the road. The airmen bombed the enemy from 
a low altitude and also machine-gunned them, and 
moreover by their timely information gave great 
assistance during the operations. By the 30th 
December all organised resistance to our advance 
had ceased and the XXth Corps consolidated its 
line, the 60th Division going forward slightly to 
improve its position and the other divisions re- 
arranging their own. The consolidation of the line 
was not an easy matter. It had to be very thor- 
oughly and rapidly done. The supply difficulty 
compelled the holding of the line with as few troops 
as possible, and when it had oeen won it was necessary 
to put it in a proper order in a minimum of time, and 
to bring back a considerable number of the troops 
w^ho had been engaged in the fighting to hold the 
grand defensive chain which made Jerusalem abso- 
lutely safe. The standard gauge railway was still 
a long way from Ramleh, and the railway construc- 
tion parties had to fight against bad weather and 
washouts. The Turkish line from Ramleh to Jeru- 
salem was in bad order ; a number of bridges w^ere 
down, so that it w^as not likety the railway could 
be working for several weeks. Lorries could supply 
the troops in the neighbourhood of the Nablus road, 
though the highway was getting into bad condition, 
bat in the right centre of the line the difficulties of 
terrain were appalling. The enemy had had a pain- 
ful experience of it and was not likely to wish to 
fight in that country again ; consequently it was 
decided to hold this part of the line with light forces. 


In this description of the operations I have made 
little mention of the work of the Australian Mounted 
Division which covered the gap between XXth and 
XXIst Corps. These Australian horsemen and yeo- 
manry guarded an extended front in inaccessible 
comitry, and every man in the Division will long 
remember the troubles of supply in the hills. They 
had some stiff fighting against a wily enemy, and not 
for a minute could they relax their vigilance. When, 
with the Turks' fatal effort to retake Jerusalem, the 
10th Division changed their front and attacked in a 
north-easterly direction, the Australian Mounted 
Division moved with it, and they found the country 
as they progressed become more rugged and bleak 
and extremely difficult for mounted troops. The 
Division was in the fighting line for the whole month 
of December, and when they handed over the new 
positions they had reached to the infantry on the 
last day of the year, their horses fully needed the 
lengthened period of rest allotted to them. 



From the story of how Jerusalem was made secure 
(for we may hope the clamour of war has echoed for 
the last time about her Holy Shrines and venerable 
walls) we may turn back to the coastal sector and see 
how the XXIst Corps improved a rather dangerous 
situation and laid the foundations for the biggest 
break-through of the world struggle. For it was the 
preparations in this area which made possible General 
Allenby's tremendous gallop through Northern Pales- 
tine and Syria, and gave the Allies Haifa, Beyrout, 
and TripoU on the seaboard, and Nazareth, Damascus, 
and Aleppo in the interior. The foundations were 
soundly laid when the XXIst Corps crossed the Auja 
before Christmas 1917, and the superstructure of the 
victory which put Turkey as well as Bulgaria and 
Austria out of the war was built up with many 
difficulties from the sure base provided by the XXIst 
Corps line. The crossing of the Auja was a great 
feat of war, and this is the first time I am able to 
mention the names of those to whom the credit of 
the operation is due. It was one of the strange 
regulations of the Army Council in connection with 
the censorship that no names of the commanders of 
army corps, divisions, brigades, or battahons should 
be mentioned by correspondents. Nor indeed was I 
permitted to identify in my despatches any particular 
division, yet the divisions concerned — the 52nd, 53rd, 
54th, 60th, and so on — had often been mentioned 



in official despatches ; the enemy not only knew 
they were in Palestine but were fully aware of their 
positions in the line; their commanders and briga- 
diers were known by name to the Turks. On the 
other hand, in describing a certain battle I was allowed 
to speak of divisions of Lowland troops, Welshmen 
and Londoners, allusions which would convey (if 
there were anything to give away) precisely as much 
information to the dull old Turk and his sharper Hun 
companion in arms as though the 52nd, 53rd, and 
60th Divisions had been explicitly designated. This 
practice seemed in effect to be designed more with the 
object of keeping our people at home in the dark, of 
forbidding them glory in the deeds of their children 
and brothers, than of preventing information reach- 
ing the enemy. Some gentleman enthroned in the 
authority of an official armchair said ' No,' and there 
was an end of it. You could not get beyond him. 
His decision was final, complete — and silly — and the 
correspondent was bound hand and foot by it. 
Doubtless he would have Uked one to plead on the 
knee for some httle relaxation of his decision. Then 
he would have answered ' No ' in a louder tone. 
Let me give one example from a number entered in 
my notebooks of how officers at home exercised their 
authority. In January 1917 the military railway 
from the Suez Canal had been constructed across the 
Sinai Desert and the first train was run into El Arish, 
about ninety miles from the Canal. I was asked by 
General Headquarters to send a cablegram to London 
announcing the fact that railhead was at El Arish, 
the town having been captured a fortnight previously 
after a fine night march. That message was never 
pubhshed, and I knew it was a waste of time to ask 
the reason. I happened to be in London for a few 
days in the following August and my duties took me 


to the War Office. A Colonel in the Intelligence 
Branch heard I was there and sent for me to tell me 
I had sent home information of value to the enemy. 
J reminded him there was a G.H.Q. censorship in 
Egypt which dealt with my cablegrams, and asked 
the nature of the valuable information which should 
have been concealed. ' You sent a telegram that 
the railway had reached El Arish when the Turks 
did not know it was beyond Bir el Abd.' Abd is 
fifty miles nearer the Suez Canal than El Arish. 
What did this officer care about a request made by 
G.H.Q. to transmit information to the British public ? 
He knew better than G.H.Q. what the British public 
should know, and he was certain the enemy thought 
we were hauHng supplies through those fifty miles 
of sand to our troops at El Arish, an absolutely phy- 
sical impossibility, for there were not enough camels 
in the East to do it. But he did not know, and he 
should have known, being an InteUigence officer, that 
the Turks were so far aware of where our railhead was 
that they were frequently bombing it from the air. 
I had been in these bombing raids and knew how 
accurately the German airmen dropped their eggs, 
and had this Intelligence officer taken the trouble 
to inquire he would have foimd that between thirty 
and forty casualties were infficted by one bomb at 
El Arish itself when railhead was being constructed. 
This critic imagined that the Turk knew only what the 
English papers told him. If the Turks' knowledge 
had been confined to what the War Office Intelligence 
Branch gave him credit for he would have been in a 
parlous state. While this ruling of the authorities 
at home prevailed it was impossible for me to give 
the names of officers or to mention divisions or units 
which were doing exceptionally meritorious work. 
Unfortunately the bureaucratic interdict continued 


till within a few days of the end of the campaign, 
when I was told that, 'having frequently referred 
to the work of the Australians, which was deserved,' 
the mention of British and Indian units would be 
welcomed. We had to wait until within a month of 
the end of the world war before the War Office would 
unbend and realise the value of the best kind of 
propaganda. No wonder our American friends con- 
sider us the worst national advertisers in the world. 

The officer who was mainly responsible for the 
success of the Auja crossing was Major-General J. 
Hill, D.S.O., A.D.C., commanding the 52nd Division. 
His plan was agreed to by General Bulfin, although 
the Corps Commander had doubts about the possi- 
bihty of its success, and had his own scheme ready 
to be put into instant operation if General Hill's 
failed. In the state of the weather General Hill's 
own brigadiers were not sanguine, and they were the 
most loyal and devoted officers a divisional com- 
mander ever had. But despite the most unfavourable 
conditions, calling for heroic measures on the part 
of officers and men alike to gain their objectives 
through mud and water and over ground that was 
as bad as it could be, the movements of the troops 
worked to the clock. One brigade's movements 
synchronised with those of another, and the river 
was crossed, commanding positions were seized, and 
bridges were built with an astoundingly small loss 
to ourselves. The Lowland Scots worked as if at 
sport, and they could not have worked longer or 
stronger if the whole honour of Scotland had depended 
upon their efforts. At a later date, when digging 
at Arsuf, these Scots came across some marble 
columns which had graced a hall when ApoUonia 
was in its heyday. The glory of ApoUonia has long 
vanished, but if in that age of warriors there had 


been a belief that those marble columns would some 
day be raised as monuments to commemorate a great 
operation of war the ancients would have had a 
special veneration for them. Three of the columns 
marked the spots where the Scots spanned the river, 
and it is a pity they cannot tell the full story to suc- 
ceeding generations. 

The river Auja is a perennial stream emptying 
itself into the blue Mediterranean w^aters four miles 
north of Jaffa. Its average width is forty yards and 
its depth ten feet, with a current running at aDout 
three miles an hour. Till we crossed it the river 
was the boundary between the British and Turkish 
armies in this sector, and all the advantage of ob- 
servation was on the northern bank. From it the 
town of Jaffa and its port were in danger, and the 
main road between Jaffa and Ramleh was observed 
and under fire. The village of Sheikh Muannis, 
about two miles inland, stood on a high mound com- 
manding the ground south of the river, and from 
Hadrah you could keep the river in sight in its whole 
winding course to the sea. All this high ground 
concealed an entrenched enemy ; on the southern 
side of the river the Turks were on Bald Hill, and 
held a Une of trenches covering the Jewish colony 
of Mulebbis and Fejja. A bridge and a mill dam 
having been destroyed during winter the only means 
of crossing w as by a ford three feet deep at the mouth, 
an uncertain passage because the sand bar over which 
one could walk shifted after heavy rain when the 
stream was swollen with flood water. Reconnais- 
sances at the river mouth were carried out with 
great daring. As I said, all the southern approaches 
to the river were commanded by the Turks on the 
northern bank, who were always alert, and the move- 
ment of one man in the Auja valley was generally 


the signal for artillery activity. So often did the 
Turkish gunners salute the appearance of a single 
British soldier that the Scots talked of the enemy 
' sniping ' with guns. To reconnoitre the enemy's 
positions by dayhght was hazardous work, and the 
Scots had to obtain their first-hand knowledge of the 
river and the approaches to it in the dark hours. 

An officers' patrol swam the river one night, saw 
what the enemy was doing, and returned unobserved. 
A few nights afterwards two officers swam out to 
sea across the river mouth and crept up the right 
bank of the stream within the enemy's lines to as- 
certain the locality of the ford and its exact width 
and depth. They also learnt that there were no 
obstacles placed across the ford, which was three 
feet deep in normal times and five feet under water 
after rains. It was obvious that bridges would be 
required, and it was decided to force the passage of 
the river in the dark hours by putting covering troops 
across to the northern bank, and by capturing the 
enemy's positions to form a bridgehead while pontoon 
bridges were being constructed for the use of guns 
and the remainder of the Division. 

Time was all-important. December and January 
are the wettest months of the season at Jaffa, and 
after heavy rains the Auja valley becomes little 
better than a marsh, so that a small amount of traffic 
will cut up the boggy land into an almost impassable 

The XXIst Corps' plan was as follows : At dawn 
on December 21 a heavy bombardment was to open 
on all the enemy's trenches covering the crossings, 
the fire of heavy guns to be concentrated on enemy 
batteries and strong positions in the rear, while ships 
of the Royal Navy bombarded two strong artillery 
positions at Tel el Rekket and El Jelil, near the coast. 


When darkness fell covering troops were to be ferried 
across the river, and then light bridges would be 
constructed for the passage of larger units charged 
with the task of getting the Turks out of their line 
from Hadrah, through El Mukras to Tel el Rekket. 
After these positions had been gained the engineers 
were to build pontoon bridges to carry the remainder 
of the Division and guns on the night of the 22nd- 
23rd December, in time to advance at daylight on the 
23rd to secure a defensive line from Tel el Mukhmar 
through Sheikh el Ballatar to Jelil. On the right 
of the 52nd Division the 54th Division was to attack 
Bald Hill on the night of 21st-22nd December, and 
on the folio wmg morning assault the trench system 
covering Mulebbis and Fejja ; then later in the day 
to advance to Rantieh, while the 75th Division 
farther east was to attack Bireh and Beida. TTiis 
plan was given to divisional commanders at a con- 
ference in Jaffa on December 12. Two days later 
General Hill submitted another scheme which pro- 
vided for a surprise attack by night with no naval 
or land artillery bombardment, such a demonstration 
being hkely to attract attention. General Hill sub- 
mitted his proposals in detail. General Bulfin gave 
the plan most careful consideration, but decided 
that to base so important an operation on the success 
of a surprise attack was too hazardous, and he 
adhered to his scheme of a deliberate operation to 
be carried through systematically. He, however, 
gave General Hill permission to carry out his surprise 
attack on the night of December 20, but insisted 
that the bombardment should begin according to 
programme at daylight on the 21st unless the surprise 
scheme was successful. 

A brigade of the 54th Division and the 1st Aus- 
tralian Light Horse Brigade relieved the Scots in 


the trenches for three nights before the attempt. 
Every man in the Lowland Division entered upon 
the work of preparation with whole-hearted en- 
thusiasm. There was much to be done and materials 
were none too plentiful. Pontoons were wired for 
and reached Jaffa on the 16th. There was Uttle 
wood available, and some old houses in Jaffa were 
pulled down to supply the Army's needs. The 
material was collected in the orange groves around 
the German colony at Sarona, a northern suburb 
of Jaffa, and every man who could use a tool was 
set to work to build a framework of rectangular 
boats to a standard design, and on this framework 
of wood tarpaulins and canvas were stretched. These 
boats were Hght in structure, and were so designed 
that working parties would be capable of transferring 
them from their place of manufacture to the river 
bank. Each boat was to carry twenty men fully 
armed and equipped over the river. They became 
so heavy with rain that they in fact only carried 
sixteen men. The boat builders worked where 
enemy airmen could not see them, and when the 
craft were completed the troops were practised at 
night in embarking and ferrying across a waterway 
— for this purpose the craft were put on a big pond — 
and in cutting a path through thick cactus hedges 
in the dark. During these preparations the artillery 
was also active. They took their guns u.p to forward 
positions during the night, and before the date of 
the attack there was a bombardment group of eight 
6-inch howitzers and a counter battery group of ten 
60-pounders and one 6-inch Mark vn. gun in con- 
cealed positions, and the artillery dumps had been 
filled with 400 rounds for each heavy gun and 700 
rounds for each field piece. The weather on the 
18th, 19th, and 20th December was most unfavour- 


able. Rain was continuous and the valley of the Auja 
became a morass. Tlie luck of the weather was 
almost always against General Allenby's Army, and 
the troops had become accustomed to fighting the 
elements as well as the Turks, but here was a situa- 
tion where rain might have made all the difference 
between success and failure. General Bulfin saw 
Greneral Hill and his brigadiers on the afternoon of 
the 20th. The brigadiers were depressed owing to 
the floods and the state of the ground, because it 
was then clear that causeways would have to be 
made through the mud to the river banks. General 
Hill remained enthusiastic and hopeful and, the 
Corps Commander supporting him, it was decided 
to proceed with the operation. For several nights, 
with the object of giving the enemy the impression 
of a nightly strafe, there had been artillery and 
machine-gun demonstrations occurring about the 
same time and lasting as long as those planned for 
the night of the crossing. After dusk on December 
20 there was a big movement behind our lines. The 
ferrying and bridging parties got on the move, each 
by their particular road, and though the wind was 
searchingly cold and every officer and man became 
thoroughly drenched, there was not a sick heart in 
the force. The 157th Brigade proceeded to the ford 
at the mouth of the Auja, the 156th Brigade advanced 
towards the river just below Muannis, and the 155th 
Brigade moved up to the mill and dam at Jerisheh, 
where it was to secure the crossing and then swing 
to the right to capture Hadrah. The advance was 
slow, but that the Scots were able to move at all is 
the highest tribute to their determination. The 
rain-soaked canvas of the boats had so greatly added 
to their weight that the parties detailed to carry 
them from the Sarona orange orchards found the 


task almost beyond their powers. The bridge rafts 
for one of the crossings could not be got up to the 
river bank because the men were continually slipping 
in the mud under the heavy load, and the attacking 
battalion at this spot was ferried over in coracles. 
On another route a section carrying a raft lost one 
of its number, who was afterwards found sunk in 
mud up to his outstretched arms. The tracks were 
almost impassable, and a Lancashire pioneer bat- 
talion was called up to assist in improving them. 
The men became caked with mud from steel helmet 
to boots, and the field guns which had to be hauled 
by double teams were so bespattered that there was 
no need for camouflage. In those strenuous hours 
of darkness the weather continued vile, and the 
storm wind flung the frequent heavy showers with 
cutting force against the struggling men. The 
covering party which was to cross at the ford found 
the bar had shifted under the pressure of flood water 
and that the marks put down to direct the column 
had been washed away. The commanding officer 
reconnoitred, getting up to his neck in water, and 
found the ford considerably out of position and 
deeper than he had hoped, but he brought his men 
together in fours and, ordering each section to link 
arms to prevent the swirhng waters carrying them 
out to sea, led them across without a casualty. In 
the other places the covering parties of brigades began 
to be ferried over at eight o'clock. The first raft-loads 
were paddled across with muffled oars. A line was 
towed behind the boats, and this being made fast on 
either side of the river the rafts crossed and recrossed 
by haulage on the rope, in order that no disturbance 
on the surface by oars on even such a wild night 
should cause an alarm. As soon as the covering 
parties were over, light bridges to carry infantry in 


file were constructed by lashing the rafts together 
and placmg planks on them. One of these bridges 
was burst by the strength of the current, but the 
delay thus caused mattered little as the surprise 
was complete. When the bridges of rafts had been 
swmig and anchored, blankets and carpets were laid 
upon them to deaden the fall of marching feet, 
and during that silent tramp across the roUing bridges 
many a keen-witted Scot found it difficult to restrain 
a laugh as he trod on carpets richer by far than any 
that had lain in his best parlour at home. He could 
not see the patterns, but rightly guessed that they 
were picked out in the bright colours of the East, 
and the muddy marks of war-travelled men were 
left on them without regret, for the carpets had 
come from German houses in Sarona. How per- 
fectly the operation was conducted — noiselessly, 
swiftly, absolutely according to time-table — may be 
gathered from the fact that two officers and sixteen 
Turks were awakened in their trench dug-outs at the 
ford by the river mouth two hours after we had 
taken the trenches. The officers resisted and had 
to be killed. Two miles behind the river the Low- 
landers captured the whole garrison of a post near 
the sea, none of whom had the slightest idea that 
the river had been crossed. An officer commanding 
a battalion at Muannis was taken in his bed, whilst 
another commanding officer had the surprise of his 
life on being invited to put his hands up in his own 
house. He looked as if he had just awakened from 
a nightmare. In one place some Turks on being 
attacked with the bayonet shouted an alarm and 
one of the crossings was shelled, but its position was 
immediately changed and the passage of the river 
continued without interruption. The whole of the 
Turkish system covering the river, trenches well 



concealed in the river banks and in patches of culti- 
vated land, were rushed in silence and captured. 
Muannis was taken at the point of the bayonet, the 
strong position at Hadrah was also carried in absolute 
silence, and at dayhght the whole line the Scots had 
set out to gain was won and the assailants were 
digging themselves in. And the price of their 
victory ? The Scots had 8 officers and 93 other 
ranks casualties. They buried over 100 Turkish / 
dead and took 11 officers and 296 other ranks 
prisoners, besides capturing ten machine guns. 

The forcing of the passage of the Auja was a 
magnificent achievement, planned with great ability 
by General HiU and carried out with that skill and 
energy which the brigadiers, staff, and all ranks of 
the Division showed throughout the campaign. One 
significant fact serves to illustrate the Scots' dis- 
ciphne. Orders were that not a shot was to be fired 
except by the guns and machine guns making their 
nightly strafe. Death was to be dealt out with the 
bayonet, and though the Lowlanders were engaged 
in a life and death struggle with the Turks, not a 
single round of rifle ammunition was used by them 
till daylight came, when, as a keen marksman said, 
they had some grand running-man practice. During 
the day some batteries got to the north bank by 
way of the ford, and two heavy pontoon bridges were 
constructed and a barrel bridge, which had been put 
together in a wadi flowing into the Auja, was floated 
down and placed in position. There was a good deal 
of sheUing by the Turks, but they fired at our new 
positions and interfered but Httle with the bridge 

On the night of the 21st- 22nd December the 54th 
Division assaulted Bald Hill, a prominent mound 
south of the Auja from which a magnificent view 


of the country was gained. Stiff fighting resulted, 
but the enemy was driven off with a loss of 4 officers 
and 48 other ranks killed, and 3 officers and 41 men 
taken prisoners. At dawn the Division reported 
that the enemy was retiring from Mulebbis and Fejja, 
and those places were soon in our hands. H.M.S. 
Grafton, with Admiral T. Jackson, the monitors M 29, 
M31, and M32, and the destroyers Lapwing and 
Lizard, arrived off the coast and shelled Jehl and 
Arsuf, and the 52nd Division, advancing on a broad 
front, occupied the whole of their objectives by five 
o'clock in the afternoon. The 157th Brigade got 
all the high ground about Arsuf, and thus prevented 
the enemy from obtaining a long-range view of Jaffa. 
A few rounds of shell fired by a naval gun at a range 
of nearly twenty miles fell in Jaffa some months 
afterwards, but with this exception Jaffa was quite 
free from the enemy's attentions. The brilliant 
operation on the Auja had saved the town and its 
people many anxious days. By the end of the year 
there were three strong bridges across the river, and 
three others substantial enough to bear the weight 
of tractors and their loads were under construction. 
The troops received their winter clothing ; bivouac 
shelters and tents were beginning to arrive. Baths 
and laundries were in operation, and the rigours of 
the campaign began to be eased. But the XXIst 
Corps could congratulate itseff that, notwithstanding 
two months of open warfare, often fifty to sixty miles 
from railhead, men's rations had never been reduced. 
Horses and mules had had short allowances, but 
they could pick up a httle in the country. The men 
were in good health, despite the hardships in the 
hills and rapid change from summer to winter, and 
their spirit could not be surpassed. 



We have seen how impregnable the defences of 
Jerusalem had become as the result of the big advance 
northwards at the end of December. As far as any 
mihtary forecast could be made we were now in an 
impenetrable position whatever force the Turk, with 
his poor communications, could employ against us 
either from the direction of Nablus or from the east 
of the Jordan. There seemed to be no risk whatever, 
so long as we chose to hold the line XXth Corps had 
won, of the Turks again approaching Jerusalem, 
but the Commander-in-Chief determined to make 
the situation absolutely safe by advancing eastwards 
to capture Jericho and the crossings of the Jordan. 
This was not solely a measure of precaution. It 
certainly did provide a means for preventing the 
foe from operating in the stern, forbidding, desolate, 
and awe-inspiring region which has been known as 
the Wilderness since Biblical days, and doubtless 
before. In that rough country it would be extremely 
difficult to stop small bands of enterprising troops 
getting through a line and creating diversions which, 
while of small military consequence, would have 
been troublesome, and might have had the effect 
of unsettling the natives. A foothold in the Jordan 
valley would have the great advantage of enabling 
us to threaten the Hedjaz railway, the Turks' sole 
means of communication with Medina, where their 
garrison was holding out staunchly against the troops 



of the King of the Hedjaz, and any assistance we 
could give the King's army would have a far-reaching 
effect on neutral Arabs. It would also stop the grain 
trade on the Dead Sea, on which the enemy set store, 
and would divert traffic in foodstuffs to natives in 
Lower Palestine, who at this time were to a consider- 
able extent dependent on supplies furnished by our 
Army. The Quartermaster- General carried many 
responsibilities on his shoulders. Time was not the 
important factor, and as General Allenby was anxious 
to avoid an operation which might involve heavy 
losses, it was at first proposed that the enemy should 
be forced to leave Jericho by the gradually closing 
in on the town from north and south. The Turks 
had got an immensely strong position about Talat 
ed Dumm, the ' Mound of Blood,' where stands a 
ruined castle of the Crusaders, the Chastel Rouge. 
One can see it with the naked eye from the Mount 
of Olives, and weeks before the operation started 
I stood in the garden of the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria 
hospice and, looking over one of the most inhospitable 
regions of the world, could easily make out the Turks 
walking on the road near the Khan, which has been 
called the Good Samaritan Inn. The country has 
indeed been rightly named. Gaunt, bare mountains 
of limestone with scarcely a patch of green to relieve 
the nakedness of the land make a wilderness indeed, 
and one sees a drop of some four thousand feet in a 
distance of about fifteen miles. The hills rise in 
continuous succession, great ramparts of the Judean 
range, and instead of valleys between them there are 
huge clefts in the rock, hundreds of feet deep, which 
carry away the winter torrents to the Jordan and 
Dead Sea. Over beyond the edge of hills are the 
green wooded banks of the Sacred River, then a patch 
or two of stunted trees, and finally the dark walls 


of the mountains of Moab shutting out the view of 
the land which still holds fascinating remains of 
Greek civilisation. 

But there was no promise of an early peep at such 
historic sights, and the problem of getting at the 
nearer land was hard enough for present deliberation. 
It was at first proposed that the whole of the XXth 
Corps and a force of cavalry should carry out opera- 
tions simultaneously on the north and east of the 
Corps front which should give us possession of the 
roads from Mar Saba and Muntar, and also from 
Taiyibeh and the old Roman road to Jericho, thus 
allowing two cavalry forces supported by infantry 
columns to converge on Jericho from the north and 
south. However, by the second week of February 
there had been bad weather, and the difficulties of 
supplying a line forty miles from the railway on 
roads which, notwithstanding a vast amount of 
labour, were still far from good, were practically 
insuperable, and it was apparent that a northerly 
and easterly advance at the same time would involve 
a delay of three weeks. 

New circumstances came to light after the advance 
was first arranged, and these demanded that the 
enemy should be driven across the Jordan as soon 
as possible. General AUenby decided that the opera- 
tions should be carried out in two phases. The first 
was an easterly advance to thrust the enemy from 
his position covering Jericho, to force him across 
the Jordan, and to obtain control of the country 
west of the river. The northerly advance to secure 
the Une of the wadi Aujah was to follow. This river 
Aujah which flows into the Jordan must not be 
confused with the Auja on the coast already described. 

The period of wet weather was prolonged, and the 
accumulation of supplies of rations and ammunition 


did not permit of operations commencing before 
February 19. That they started so early is an elo- 
quent tribute to the hard work of the Army, for the 
weather by the date of the attack had improved but 
little, and the task of getting up stores could only 
be completed by extraordinary exertions. General 
Chetwode ordered a brigade of the 60th Division 
to capture Mukhmas as a preliminary to a concen- 
tration at that place. On the 19th the Division 
occupied a front of about fourteen miles from near 
Muntar, close to which the ancient road from Beth- 
lehem to Jericho passes, through Ras Umm Deisis, 
across the Jerusalem-Jericho road to Arak Ibrahim, 
over the great chasm of the wadi Farah which has 
cliff-like sides hundreds of feet deep, to the brown 
knob of Ras et Tawil. The line was not gained 
without fighting. The Turks did not oppose us at 
Muntar — the spot where the Jews released the Scape- 
goat — but there was a short contest for Ibrahim, and 
a longer fight lasting till the afternoon for an en- 
trenched position a mile north of it ; Ras et Tawil 
was ours by nine in the morning. Tawil overlooks 
a track which has been trodden from time imme- 
morial. It leads from the Jordan valley north-west 
of Jericho, and passes beneath the frowning height 
of Jebel Kuruntul with its bare face relieved by a 
monastery built into the rock about haH-way up, 
and a walled garden on top to mark the Mount of 
Temptation, as the pious monks believe it to be. 
The track then proceeds westwards, winding in and 
out of the tremendous slits in rock, to Mukhmas, and 
it was probably along this rough line that the Israel- 
ites marched from their camp at Gilgal to overthrow 
the Philistines. On the right of the Londoners were 
two brigades of the Anzac Mounted Division, working 
through the most desolate hills and wadis down to 



the Dead Sea with a view to pushing up by Nebi 
Musa, which tradition has ascribed as the burial 
place of Moses, and thence into the Jordan valley. 
Northward of the 60th Division the 53rd was extend- 
ing its flank eastwards to command the Taiyibeh- 
Jericho road, and the Welsh troops occupied 
Rummon, a huge mount of chalk giving h. good view 
of the Wilderness. This was the position on the 
night of 19th February. 

At dawn on the 20th the Londoners were to attack 
the Turks in three columns. The right column was 
to march from El Muntar to Ekteif , the centre column 
to proceed along the Jerusalem- Jericho road between 
the highway and the wadi Farah, and the left column 
was to go forward by the Tawil- Jebel Kuruntul track. 
The 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade and the New 
Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade were, if possible, 
to make Nebi Musa. 

The infantry attack was as fuie as anything done 
in the campaign. I had the advantage of witnessing 
the centre column carry out the whole of its task 
and of seeing the right column complete as gallant 
an effort as any troops could make, and as one saw 
them scale frowning heights and clamber up and 
down the roughest of torrent beds, one realised that 
more than three months' fighting had not removed 
the ' bloom ' from these Cockney warriors, and that 
their physique and courage were proof against long 
and heavy trials of campaigning. The chief ob- 
jective of the centre column was Talat ed Dumm 
which, lying on the Jericho road just before the 
junction of the old and the new road to the Jordan 
valley, was the key to Jericho. It is hard to imagine 
a better defensive position. To the north of the 
road is the wadi Farah, a great crack in the rocks 
which can only be crossed in a few places, and which 


a few riflemen could cover. Likewise a platoon 
distributed behind rocks on the many hills could 
command the approaches from all directions, while 
the hill of Talat ed Dumm, by the Good Samaritan 
Inn, and the height whereon the Crusader ruins 
stand, dominated a broad flat across which our 
troops must move. This position the 180th Brigade 
attacked at dawn. Tlie guns opened before the 
sun appeared above the black crest line of the moun- 
tains of Moab, and well before long shadows were 
cast across the Jordan valley the batteries were 
tearing to pieces the stone walls and rocky eyries 
sheltering machine - gunners and infantry. This 
preliminary bombardment, if short, was wonderfully 
effective. From where I stood I saw the heavies 
pouring an unerring fire on to the Crusader Castle, 
huge spurts of black smoke, and the dislocation of 
big stones which had withstood the disintegrating 
effect of many centuries of sun powder, telling the 
Forward Observing Officer that his gunners were 
well on the target and that to live in that havoc 
the Turks must seek the shelter of vaults cut deep 
down in the rock by masons of old. No enemy 
could delay our progress from that shell-torn spot. 
Lighter guns searched other positions and whiffs 
of shrapnel kept Turks from their business. There 
are green patches on the western side of Talat ed 
Dumm in the early months of the year before the 
sun has burned up the country. Over these the 
infantry advanced as laid down in the book. The 
whirring rap-rap of machine guns at present un- 
located did not stop them, and as our machine-gun 
sections, ever on the alert to keep down rival auto- 
matic guns, found out and sprayed the nests, the 
enemy w^as seen to be anxious about his line of retreat. 
One large party, harried by shrapnel and machine- 


gun fire, left its positions and rushed towards a 
defile, but rallied and came back, though when it 
reoccupied its former line the Londoners had reached 
a point to enfiilade it, and it suffered heavily. We 
soon got this position, and then our troops, ascending 
some spurs, poured a destructive fire into the defile 
and so harassed the Turks re-forming for a counter- 
attack as to render feeble their efforts to regain 
what they had lost. 

By eight o'clock we had taken the whole of the 
Talat ed Dumm position, and long-range sniping 
throughout the day did not disturb our secure pos- 
session of it. Immediately the heights were occupied 
the gims went ahead to new points, and armoured 
cars left the road to try to find a way to the south- 
east to protect the flank of the right column. They 
had a troublesome journey. Some of the crews 
walked well ahead of the cars to reconnoitre the 
tracks, and it speaks well for the efficiency of the 
cars as well as for the pluck and cleverness of the 
drivers that in crossing a mile or two of that terribly 
broken mountainous country no car was overturned 
and all got back to the road without mishap. 

Throughout the night and during the greater part 
of the day of February 20 the right column were 
fighting under many difficulties. In their march 
from the hill of Muntar they had to travel over ground 
so cracked and strewn with boulders that in many 
parts the brigade could only proceed in single file. 
In some places the track chosen had a huge cleft in 
the mountain on one side and a cHff face on the other. 
It was a continual succession of watercourses and 
mountains, of uphill and downhill travel over the 
most uneven surface in the blackness of night, and 
it took nearly eight hours to march three miles. The 
nature of the country was a very serious obstacle 


and the column was late in deploying for attack. 
But bad as was the route the men had followed during 
the night, it was easy as compared with the position 
they had set out to carry. Tliis was Jebel Ekteif, 
the southern end of the range of hills of which Talat 
ed Dumm was the northern. Ekteif presented to 
this column a face as precipitous as Gibraltar and 
perhaps half as high. There was a ledge running 
round it about three-quarters of the way from the 
top, and for hours one could see the Turks lying flat on 
this rude path trying to pick off the intrepid climbers 
attempting a precarious ascent. Some mountain 
guns suddenly ranged on the enemy on this ledge, 
and, picking up the range with remarkable rapidity, 
forced the Turks into more comfortable positions. 
The enemy, too, had some well-served guns, and they 
plastered the spurs leading to the crest from the west, 
but our infantry's audacity never faltered, and after 
we had got into the first lines on the hill our men 
proceeded methodically to rout out the machine guns 
from their nooks and crannies. This was a somewhat 
lengthy process, but small parties working in support 
of each other gradually crushed opposition, and the 
huge rocky rampart was ours by three o'clock in the 
afternoon. Meanwhile two brigades of the Anzac 
Moimted Division were moving eastwards from Mun- 
tar over the hills and wadis down to the Dead Sea, 
whence turning northwards they marched towards 
Nebi Musa to try to get on to the Jordan valley flats 
to threaten the Turks in rear. The terrain was 
appaUingly bad and horses had to be led, the troops 
frequently proceeding in Indian file. No guns could 
be got over the hills to support the Anzacs, and when 
they tried to pass through a narrow defile south of 
Nebi Musa it was found that the enemy covered 
the approach with machine guns, and progress was 



stopped dead until, during the early hours of the 
following morning, some of the Londoners' artillery 
managed by a superhuman effort to get a few guns 
over the mountains to support the cavalry. By 
this time the Turks had had enough of it, and while 
it was dark they were busy trekking through Jericho 
towards the Ghoraniyeh bridge over the river, covered 
by a force on the Jebel Kuruntul track which pre- 
vented the left column from reaching the cliffs over- 
looking the Jordan valley. By dawn on the 21st 
Nebi Musa was made good, the 1st Australian Light 
Horse Brigade and the New Zealand Brigade were 
in Jericho by eight o'clock and had cleared the Jordan 
valley as far north as the river Aujah, the Londoners 
holding the line of cliffs which absolutely prevented 
any possibility of the enemy ever again threatening 
Jerusalem or Bethlehem from the east. This suc- 
cessful operation also put an end to the Turks' Dead 
Sea grain traffic. They had given up hope of keeping 
their landing place on the northern shores of the 
Dead Sea when we took Talat ed Dumm, and one 
hour after our infantry had planted themselves on 
the Hill of Blood we saw the enemy burning his 
boats, wharves, and storehouses at Rujm el Bahr, 
where he had expended a good deal of labour to put 
up buildings to store grain wanted for his army. 
Subsequently we had some naval men operating 
motor boats from this point, and these sailors achieved 
a record on that melancholy waterway at a level 
far below that at which any submarine, British or 
German, ever rested. 



It is doubtful whether the population of any city 
within the zones of war profited so much at the hands 
of the conqueror as Jerusalem. In a httle more than 
half a year a wondrous change was effected in the 
condition of the people, and if it had been possible 
to search the Oriental mind and to get a free and 
frank expression of opinion, one would probably 
have found a universal thankfulness for General 
Allenby's deliverance of the Holy City from the hands 
of the Turks. And with good reason. The scourge 
of war so far as the British Army was concerned left 
Jerusalem the Golden untouched. For the 50,000 
people in the City the skilfully applied- military 
pressure which put an end to Turkish misgovernment 
was the beginning of an era of happiness and content- 
ment of which they had hitherto had no conception. 
Justice was administered in accordance with British 
ideals, every man enjoyed the profits of his industry, 
traders no longer ran the gauntlet of extortionate 
officials, the old time corruption was a thing of the 
past, public health was organised as far as it could 
be on Western lines, and though in matters of sanita- 
tion and personal cleanliness the inhabitants still 
had much to learn, the appearance of the Holy City 
and its population vastly improved under the touch 
of a civihsing hand. Sights that offended more than 
one of the senses on the day when General Allenby 
made his official entry had disappeared, and peace 



and order reigned where previously had been but 
misery, poverty, disease, and squalor. 

One of the biggest blots upon the Turkish govern- 
ment of the City was the total failure to provide an 
adequate water supply. What they could not, or 
would not, do in their rule of four hundred years 
His Majesty's Royal Engineers accompHshed in a 
little more than two months, and now for the first 
time in history every civilian in Jerusalem can obtain 
as much pure mountain spring water as he wishes, 
and for this water, as fresh and bright as any bubbling 
out of Welsh hills, not a penny is charged. The 
picturesque, though usually unclean, water carrier 
is passing into the Umbo of forgotten things, and his 
energies are being diverted into other channels. The 
germs that swarmed in his leathern water bags will 
no longer endanger the lives of the citizens, and the 
deadly perils of stagnant cistern water have been to 
a large extent removed. 

For its water Jerusalem used to rely mainly upon 
the winter rainfall to fill its cisterns. Practically 
every house has its underground reservoir, and it 
is estimated that if aU were full they would contain 
about 360,000,000 gaUons. But many had faUen 
into disrepair and most, if not the whole of them, 
required thorough cleansing. One which was in- 
spected by our sanitary department had not been 
emptied for nineteen years. To supplement the 
cistern supply the Mosque of Omar reservoir halved 
with Bethlehem the water which flowed from near 
Solomon's Pools down an aqueduct constructed by 
Roman engineers under Herod before the Saviour 
was born. This was not nearly sufficient, nor was 
it so constant a supply as that provided by our 
Army engineers. They went farther afield. They 
found a group of spring-heads in an absolutely clean 


gathering ground on the hills yielding some 14,000 
gallons an hour, and this water which was running 
to waste is lifted to the top of a hill from which it 
flows by gravity through a long pipe-hne to Jerusalem, 
where a reservoir has been built on a high point on 
the outskirts of the city. Supplies of this beautiful 
water run direct to the hospitals, and at standpipes 
all over the city the inhabitants take as much as they 
desire. The water consumption of the people became 
ten times what it was in the previous year, and this 
fact alone told how the boon was appreciated. 

The scheme did not stop at putting up standpipes 
for those who fetched the water. A portion of the 
contents of the cisterns was taken for watering troop 
horses in the spring — troops were not allowed to 
drink it. The water level of these cisterns became 
very low, and as they got emptied the authorities 
arranged for refilling them on the one condition that 
they were first thoroughly cleansed and put in order. 
The British administration would not be parties to 
the perpetuation of a system which permitted the 
fouling of good crystal water. A householder had 
merely to apply to the Military Governor for water, 
and a sanitary officer inspected the cistern, ordered 
it to be cleansed, and saw that this was done ; then 
the Department of Public Health gave its certificate, 
and the engineers ran a pipe to the cistern and filled 
it, no matter what its capacity. Two cisterns were 
replenished with between 60,000 and 70,000 gallons 
of sparkling water from the hills in place of water 
heavily charged with the accumulation of summer 
dust on roofs, and the dust of Jerusalem roads, as 
we had sampled it, is not as clean as desert sand. 

The installation of the supply was a triumph for 
the Royal Engineers. In peace times the work 
would have taken from one to two years to complete. 


A preliminary investigation and survey of the ground 
was made on February 14, and a scheme was sub- 
mitted four days later. Owing to the shortage of 
transport and abnormally bad weather work could 
not be commenced till April 12. Many miles of pipe 
line had to be laid and a powerful pumping plant 
erected, but water was being dehvered to the people 
of Jerusalem on the 18th of June. Other mihtary 
works have done much for the common good in 
Palestine, but none of them were of greater utility 
than this. Mahomedans seeing bright water flow 
into Jerusalem regarded it as one of the wonders of 
all time. It is interesting to note that the American 
Red Cross Society, which sent a large and capable 
staff to the Holy Land after America came into the 
war, knew of the lack of an adequate water supply 
for Jerusalem, and with that foresight which Ameri- 
cans show, forwarded to Egypt for transportation 
to Jerusalem some thousand tons of water mains to 
provide a water service. When the American Red 
Cross workers reached the Holy City they found the 
Army's plans almost completed, and they were the 
first to pay a tribute to what they described as the 
' civilising march of the British Army.' 

Those who watched the ceaseless activities of the 
PubUc Health Administration were not surprised at 
the remarkable improvement in the sick and death 
rates, not only of Jerusalem but of all the towns 
and districts. The new water supply wiU unquestion- 
ably help to lower the figures still further. A medical 
authority recently told me that the health of the 
community was wonderfully good and there was no 
suspicion of cholera, outbreaks of which were frequent 
under the Turkish regime. Government hospitals 
were estabhshed in all large centres. In this country 
where small-pox takes a heavy toll the ' conscientious 


objector ' was unknown, and many thousands of 
natives in a few months came forward of their own 
free will to be vaccinated. Typhus and relapsing 
fever, both lice-borne diseases, used to claim many 
victims, but the figures fell very rapidly, due largely, 
no doubt, to the full use to which disinfecting plants 
were put in all areas of the occupied territory. The 
virtues of bodily cleanliness were taught, and the 
people were given that personal attention which 
was entirely lacking under Turkish rule. It is not 
easy to overcome the prejudices and cure the habits 
of thousands of years, but progress is being made 
surely if slowly, and already there is a gratifying 
improvement in the condition of the people which 
is patent to any observer. 

In Jerusalem an infants' welfare bureau was insti- 
tuted, where mothers were seen before and after 
childbirth, infants' clinics were established, a body 
of health was formed, and a kitchen was opened to 
provide food for babies and the poor. The nurses 
were mainly local subjects who had to undergo an 
adequate training, and there was no one who did 
not confidently predict a rapid fall in the infant 
mortality rate which, to the shame of the Turkish 
administration, was fully a dozen times that of the 
highest of EngUsh towns. The spadework was aU 
done by the medical staff of the Occupied Enemy 
Territory Administration. The call was urgent, and 
though labouring under war-time difficulties they 
got things going quickly and smoothly. Some volun- 
tary societies were assisting, and the enthusiasm of 
the American Red Cross units enabled aU to carry 
on a great and beneficent work. 

t .. 




The airmen who were the eyes of the Army in 
Sinai and Palestine can look back on their record as 
a great achievement. Enormous difficulties were 
faced with stout hearts, and the Eoyal Flying Corps 
spirit surmounted them. It was one long test of 
courage, endurance, and efficiency, and so triumph- 
antly did the airmen come through the ordeal that 
General Allenby's Army may truthfully be said to 
have secured as complete a mastery of the air as it did 
of the plains and hills of Southern Palestine. Those 
of us who watched the airmen ' carrying on,' from 
the time when their aeroplanes were inferior to those 
of the Germans in speed, climbing capacity, and other 
quahties which go to make up first-class fighting 
machines, till the position during the great advance 
when few enemy aviators dared cross our lines, can 
well testify to the wonderful work our airmen per- 

With comparatively few opportunities for combat 
because the enemy knew his inferiority and declined 
to fight unless forced, the pilots and observers from 
the moment our attack was about to start were always 
aggressive, and though the number of their victims 
may seem small compared with aerial victories on 
the Western Front they were substantial and im- 
portant. In the month of January 1917 the flying 
men accounted for eleven aeroplanes, five of these 



falling victims to one pilot. The last of these vic- 
tories I myself witnessed. In a single-seater the pilot 
engaged two two-seater aeroplanes of a late type, 
driving down one machine within our line, the pilot 
killed by eleven bullets and the observer wounded. 
He then chased the other plane, whose pilot soon lost 
his taste for fighting, dropped into a heavy cloud 
bank, and got away. No odds were too great for 
our airmen. I have seen one aeroplane swoop down 
out of the blue to attack a formation of six enemy 
machines, sending one crashing to earth and dis- 
persing the remainder. In one brief fight another 
pilot drove down three German planes. The airman 
does not talk of his work, and we knew that what 
we saw and heard of were but fragments in the silent 
records of great things done. Much that was accom- 
plished was far behind our visual range, high up over 
the bleak hills of Judea, above even the rain clouds 
driven across the heights by the fury of a winter 
gale, or skimming over the dull surface of the Dead 
Sea, flying some hundreds of feet below sea level to 
interrupt the passage of foodstuffs of which the Turk 
stood in need. 

All through the Army's rapid march northwards 
from the crushed Gaza-Beersheba line the airmen's 
untiring work was of infinite value. When the Turkish 
retreat began the enemy was bombed and machine- 
gunned for a fuU week, the railway, aerodromes, 
troops on the march, artiUery, and transport being 
hit time and again, and five smashed aeroplanes and 
a large quantity of aircraft stores of every description 
were found at Menshiye alone. The raid on that 
aerodrome was so successful that at night the Germans 
burnt the whole of the equipment not destroyed by 
bombs. Three machines were also destroyed by us 
at Et Tineh, five at Ramleh and one at Ludd, and the 



country was covered with the debris of a well-bombed 
and beaten army. After Jerusalem came under the 
safe protection of our arms airmen harassed the re- 
tiring enemy with bombs and machine guns. The 
wmd was strong, but defying treacherous eddies, 
the pilots came through the valleys between steep- 
sloped hills and caught the Turks on the Nablus road, 
emptying their bomb racks at a height of a few 
hundred feet, and giving the scattered troops machine- 
gun fire on the return journey. 

A glance at the list of honours bestowed on officers 
and other ranks of the R.F.C. serving with the Egyp- 
tian Expeditionary Force in 1917 is sufficient to give 
an idea of the efficiency of the service of our airmen. 
It must be remembered that the Palestine Wing was 
small, if thoroughly representative of the Flying 
Corps ; its numbers were few but the quahty was 
thgre. Indeed I heard the Austrahan squadron of 
flymg men which formed part of the Wing described 
by the highest possible authority as probably the 
finest squadron in the whole of the British service. 
This following list of honours is, perhaps, the 
most eloquent testimony to the airmen's work in 
Palestine : 

Victoria Cross 

Distinguished Service Order 
Military Cross 
Croix de Guerre . 
Military Medal . 
Meritorious Service Medal 
Order of the Nile 




The sum total of the R.F.C. work was not to be 
calculated merely from death and damage caused to 
the enemy from the air. Strategical and tactical 
reconnaissances formed a large part of the daily 


round, and the reports brought in always added to 
our Army's store of information. In Palestine, 
possibly to a greater extent than in any other theatre 
of war, our map-makers had to rely on aerial photo- 
graphs to supply them with the details required for 
mihtary maps. The best maps we had of Palestine 
were those prepared by Lieutenant H. H. Kitchener, 
R.E., and Lieutenant Conder in 1881 for the Palestine 
Exploration Fund. They were still remarkably 
accurate so far as they went, but ' roads,' to give 
the tracks a .description to which they were not 
entitled, had altered, and villages had disappeared, 
and newer and additional information had to be 
supplied. The Royal Flying Corps — it had not yet 
become the Royal Air Force — furnished it, and aU 
important details of hundreds of square miles of 
country which survey parties could not reach were 
registered with wonderful accuracy by aerial photo- 

The work began for the battle of Rafa, and the 
enemy positions on the Magruntein hill were all set 
out before General Chetwode when the Desert Column 
attacked and scored an important victory. Then 
when 12,000 Turks were fortifying the WeU Sheikh 
Nuran country covering the wadi Ghuzze and the 
Shellal springs, not a redoubt or trench but was re- 
corded with absolute fidelity on photographic prints, 
and long before the Turks abandoned the place and 
gave us a fine supply of water we had excellent maps 
of the position. In time the whole Gaza-Beersheba 
line was completely photographed and maps were 
continually revised, and if any portion of the Turkish 
system of defences was changed or added to the 
commander in the district concerned was notified 
at once. To such perfection did the R.F.C. photo- 


graphic branch attain, that maps showing full details 
of new or altered trenches were in the hands of 
generals within four hours of the taking of the photo- 
graphs. Later on the work of the branch increased 
enormously, and the results fully repaid the infinite 
care and labour bestowed upon it. 

The R.F.C. made long flights in this theatre of 
war, and some of them were exceptionally difficult 
and dangerous. A French battleship when bom- 
barding a Turkish port of military importance had 
two of our machines to spot the effect of her gunfire. 
To be with the ship when the action opened the 
airmen had to fly in darkness for an hour and a half 
from a distant aerodrome, and they both reached 
the rendezvous within five minutes of the appointed 
time. The Turks on their lines of communication with 
the Hedjaz have an unpleasant recollection of being 
bombed at Maan. That was a noteworthy expedition. 
Three machines set out from an aerodrome over 150 
miles away in a straight line, the pilots having to 
steer a course above country with no prominent land- 
marks. They went over a waterless desert so rough 
that it would have been impossible to come down with- 
out seriously damaging a plane, and if a pilot had been 
forced to land his chance of getting back to our country 
would have been almost nil. Water bottles and 
rations were carried in the machines, but they were 
not needed, for the three pilots came home together 
after hitting the station buildings at Maan and 
destroying considerable material and suppHes. 

The aeroplane has been put to many uses in war 
and, it may be, there are instances on other fronts 
of it being used, in emergencies, as an ambulance. 
When a little mobile force rounded up the Turkish 
post at Hassana, on the eastern side of the Sinai 


Peninsula, one of our men received so severe a wound 
that an immediate operation was necessary. An 
airman at once volunteered to carry the wounded 
jnan to the nearest hospital, forty-four miles away 
across the desert, and by his action a Hfe was 


The following telegram was sent by Enver Pasha 
to Field-Marshal von Hindenburg, at Supreme Army- 
Command Headquarters, from Constantinople on 
August 23, 1917 : 

The news of the despatch of strong enemy forces to Egypt, 
together with the nomination of General Allenby as Com- 
mander-in-Chief on our Syrian Front, indicates that the 
British contemplate an offensive on the Syrian Front, and 
very probably before the middle of November. 

The preservation of the Sinai Front is a primary condition 
to the success of the Yilderim undertaking. 

After a further conversation with the Commander of 
the IVth Army (Jemal Pasha) I consider it necessary to 
strengthen this front by one of the infantry divisions in- 
tended for Yilderim, and to despatch this division im- 
mediately from Aleppo. 

With this reinforcement the defence of the Sinai Front 
by the IVth Army is assured. 

General von Falkenhajm takes up the position that he 
does not consider the defence assured, and that the further 
reduction of Yilderim forces is to be deprecated under any 

He consequently recommends that we on our side should 
attack the British, and as far as possible surprise them, 
before they are strengthened. He wishes to carry out this 
attack with four infantry divisions, and the 'Asia ' Corps. 
Two of the four infantry divisions have stiU to be despatched 
to the front. 

I cannot yet decide to support the proposal, nor need 
I do 80, as the transport of an infantry division from Aleppo 
to Rayak requires twenty days. During this period the 



situation as regards the enemy will become clear, and one 
will become better able to estimate the chance of success 
of an attack. 

I must, however, in any case be able to dispose of more 
forces than at present, either for the completion of Yilderim, 
or for the replacement of the very heavy losses which will 
certainly occur in the Syrian attack. 

I must consequently reiterate, to my deep regret, my 
request for the return of the Vlth Army Corps [which was 
operating at that time in the Dobrudja] and for the despatch 
of this Corps, together with the 20th Infantry Division, 
commencing with the 15th Infantry Division. 

In my opinion the Army Corps could be replaced by 
Bulgarians, whose task is unquestionably being lightened 
through the despatch of troops (British) to Egypt. 

Should this not be the case, I would be ready to exchange 
two divisions from the Vth Army for the two infantry divi- 
sions of the Vlth Army Corps, as the former are only suited 
for a war of position, and would have to be made mobile 
by the allotment of transport and equipment. 

If these two infantry divisions were given up, the Vth 
Army would have only five infantry divisions of no great 
fighting value, a condition of things which is perhaps not 
very desirable. 

For the moment my decision is : Defence of Syria by 
strengthening that front by one infantry division, and 
prosecution of the Yilderim scheme. 

Should good prospects offer of beating the British de- 
cisively in Syria before they have been reinforced I will take 
up General von Falkenhayn's proposal again, as far as it 
appears possible to carry it out, having in view the question 
of transport and rationing, which still has to be settled in 
some respects. — Turkish Main Headquarters, Enveb. 



Von Falkenhayn despatched the following telegram 
from Constantinople on August 25, 1917, to German 
General Headquarters : 

The possibility of a British attack in Syria has had to 
be taken into consideration from the beginning. Its re- 
percussion on the Irak undertaking was obvious. On that 
account I had already settled in my conversations in Con- 
stantinople during May that, if the centre of gravity of 
operations were transferred to the Sinai Front, command 
should be given me there too. The news now to hand — 
reinforcement of the British troops in Egypt, taking over 
of command by Allenby, the demands of the British Press 
daily becoming louder — makes the preparation of a British 
attack in Syria probable. 

Jemal Pasha wishes to meet it with a defensive. To 
that end he demands the divisions and war material which 
^ were being collected about Aleppo for Yilderim. The 
natural result of granting this request will be that true 
safety will never be attained on the Sinai Front by a pure 
defensive, and that the Irak undertaking will certainly 
fritter away owing to want of driving power or to delays. 

I had consequently proposed to the Turkish Higher 
Command to send two divisions and the ' Asia ' Corps as 
quickly as possible to Southern Syria, so as to carry out 
a surprise attack on the British by means of an encircling 
movement before the arrival of their reinforcements. Rail- 
ways allow of the assembly of these forces (inclusive of heavy 
artiUery, material and technical stores) in the neighbourhood 
of Beersheba by the end of October. The disposable parts 
of the rVth Army (two to three divisions) would be added 
to it. 

In a discussion between Enver, Jemal, and myself, Enver 
decided first of all to strengthen the IVth Army by the 
inclusion of one division from the Army Group. This 
division would suffice to ward off attack. The Irak under- 


taking could be carried through at the same time. Judging 
from all former experiences I am firmly convinced as soon 
as it comes to a question of the expected attack on the 
Sinai Front, or even if the IVth Army only feels itself seriously 
threatened, further troops, munitions, and material will be 
withdrawn from the Army Group, and Turkey's forces will 
be shattered. 

Then nothing decisive can be undertaken in either theatre 
of war. The sacrifice of men, money, and material which 
Germany is offering at the present moment will be in vain. 

The treatment of the question is rendered all the more 
difficult because I cannot rid myself of the impression that 
the decision of the Turkish Higher Command is based far 
less on military exigencies than on personal motives. It 
is dictated with one eye on the mighty Jemal, who deprecates 
a definite decision, but yet on the other hand opposes the 
slightest diminution of the area of his command. 

Consequently as the position now stands, I consider the 
Irak undertaking practicable only if it is given the necessary 
freedom for retirement through the removal of the danger 
on the Syrian Front. The removal of this danger I regard 
as only possible through attack. v. Falkenhayn. 



Here is another Grerman estimate of the position 
created by our War Cabinet's decision to take the 
offensive in Palestine, and in considering the view 
of the Grerman Staff and the prospect of success any 
Turkish attack would have, it must be borne in mind 
that under the most favourable circumstances the 
enemy could not have been in position for taking an 
offensive before the end of October. Von Falkenhayn 
wished to attack the British ' before the arrival of 
their reinforcements.' Not only had our reinforce- 
ments arrived before the end of October, but they 
were all in position and the battle had commenced. 
Beersheba was taken on October 31. This apprecia- 
tion was written by Major von Papen of Yilderim 
headquarters on August 28, 1917 : 

Enver's objections, the improbability of attaining a 
decisive result on the Sinai Front with two divisions plus 
the ' Asia Corps ' and the difficulty of the Aleppo -Rayak 
transport question, hold good. 

The execution of the offensive with stronger forces is 
desirable, but is not practicable, as, in consequence of the 
beginning of the rainy weather in the middle of November, 
the British offensive may be expected at the latest during 
the latter half of October ; ours therefore should take place 
during the first part of that month. 

The transport question precludes the assembly of stronger 
forces by that date. 

Should the idea of an offensive be abandoned altogether 
on that account ? 

On the assumption that General AUenby — after the two 
unsuccessful British attacks — ^will attack only with a marked 
superiority of men and munitions, a passive defence on a 
thirty-five kilometre front with an exposed flank does not 
appear to offer any great chance of success. 


The conditions on the Western Front (defensire zone, 
attack divisions) are only partially applicable here, since 
the mobility of the artillery and the correct tactical handling 
of the attack division are not assured. The intended passive 
defensive will not be improved by the theatrical attack with 
one division suggested by General von Kress. 

On the contrary this attack would be without result, as 
it would be carried out too obliquely to the front, and would 
only mean a sacrifice of men and material. 

The attack proposed by His Excellency for the envelop- 
ment of the enemy's flank — ^if carried out during the first 
half of October with four divisions plus the ' Asia Corps ' — 
will perhaps have no definite result, but will at all events 
result in this : that the Gaza Front flanked by the sea 
will tie down considerable forces and defer the continuation 
of British operations in the wet season, during which, in 
the opinion of General von Kress, they cannot be carried 
on with any prospect of success. 

The situation on the Sinai Front will then be clear. Natur- 
ally it is possible that the position here may demand the 
inclusion of further effectives and the Yilderim operation 
consequently become impracticable. This, however, will 
only prove that the determining factor of the decisive opera- 
tion for Turkey during the winter of 1917-1918 lies in Pales- 
tine and not in Mesopotamia. An offensive on the Sinai 
Front is therefore — even with reduced forces and a limited 
objective — ^the correct solution. Papen. 



Letter from General Kress von Kressenstein to YiU 
derim headquarters, dated September 29, 1917, on 
moral of Turkish troops, 

A question which urgently needs regulating is that of 
deserters. According to my experience their number will 
increase still more with the setting in of the bad weather 
and the deterioration of rations. 

Civil administration and the gendarmerie fail entirely ; 
they often have a secret understanding with the population 
and are open to bribery. 

The cordon drawn by me is too weak to prevent desertion. 
I am also too short of troops to have the necessary raids 
undertaken in the hinterland. It is necessary that the 
hunt for deserters in the area between the front and the line 
Jerusalem -Ramleh -Jaffa be formally organised under ener- 
getic management, that one or two squadrons exclusively 
for this service be detailed, and that a definite reward be 
paid for bringing in each deserter. But above all it is 
necessary that punishment should follow in consequence, 
and that the unfortunately very frequent amnesties of His 
Majesty the Sultan be discontinued, at least for some time. 

The question of rationing has not been settled. We are 
living continually from hand to mouth. Despite the binding 
promises of the Headquarters IVth Army, the VaU of Dam- 
ascus, the Lines of Communication, Major Bathmann and 
others, that from now on 150 tons of rations should arrive 
regularly each day, from the 24th to the 27th of this month, 
for example a total of 229 tons or only 75 tons per diem 
have arrived. 

I cannot fix the blame for these irregularities. The Head- 
quarters rVth Army has received the highly gratifying 
order that, at least up to the imminent decisive battle, the 
bread ration is raised to 100 grammes. This urgently 
necessary improvement of the men's rations remains illusory, 



if a correspondingly larger quantity of flour (about ont 
wagon per day) is not supplied to us. So far the improve- 
ment exists only on paper. The condition of the animals 
particularly gives cause for anxiety. Not only are we about 
6000 animals short of establishment, but as a result of ex- 
haustion a considerable number of animals are ruined daily. 
The majority of divisions are incapable of operating on 
account of this shortage of animals. The ammunition 
supply too is gradually coming into question on account of 
the deficiency in animals. The menacing danger can only 
be met by a regular supply of sufficient fodder. The stock 
of straw in the area of operations is exhausted. With gold 
some barley can still be bought in the country. 

Every year during the rainy season the railway is inter- 
rupted again and again for periods of from eight to fourteen 
days. There are also days and weeks in which the motor- 
lorry traffic has to be suspended. Finally we must calculate 
on the possibility of an interruption of our rear communica- 
tions by the enemy. I therefore consider it absolutely 
necessary that at least a fourteen days' reserve of rations 
be deposited in the depots at the front as early as 

The increase of troops on the Sinai Front necessitates a 
very considerable increase on the supply of meat from the 
Line of Communication area, Damascus district. 



The troops of General Allenby's Army before the 
attack on Beersheba were distributed as follows : 

29th Brigade. 

6th R. Irish Rifles. 
5th Con. Rangers. 
6th Leinsters. 
1st Leinsters 

XXth corps. 
10th Division. 

SOth Brigade. 

1st R. Irish Regt. 
6th R. Munst. Fus. 

31s^ Brigade. 

5th R. InniskilUngs. 
6th R. Inniskillings. 
2nd R. Irish Fus. 
5th R. Irish Rifles. 

l5Sth Brigade. 

l/5th R.Welsh Fus. 



1 /1st Hereford. 

53rd Division. 

1 59th Brigade. 


l/4th Welsh 
I/5th „ 

I60th Brigade. 
l/4th R.Sussex. 
2/4th R. West Surrey. 
2/4th R. West Kent. 
2/lOth Middlesex. 

11 9th Brigade. 

2/13th London. 

60th Division. 

ISOth Brigade. 

2/1 7th London. 
2/1 8th 

181s^ Brigade. 

2/21st London. 

2/22nd „ 
2/24th „ 

229th Brigade. 

16th Devons (1st 
Devon & R. N. 
Devon Yeo.). 

12th Somerset L.I. 

74th Division. 

230th Brigade. 
10th E. Kent (R. E. 

Kent & W. Kent 

16th R.Sussex (Yeo.). 

2315^ Brigade. 
10th Shrop. (Shrop. 
& Cheshire Yeo.). 

24th R. Welsh Fus. 
(Denbigh Yeo.). 



74:th Division (continued). 

22dth Brigade. 

230/ A Brigade. 

2315/ Brigade. 


15th Suffolk (Yeo.). 

25th R. Welsh Fua. 

& Forfar Yeo.). 

(Montgomery Yeo 
& Welsh Horse). 

12th R. Scots Fus. 

12th Norfolk (Yeo.) 

. 24th Welsh Regt. 

(Ayr & Lanark 

(Pembroke & Gla- 



morgan Yeo.). 

52nd (Lowland) Division. 

155^^ Brigade. 

156//i Brigade. 

157/;* Brigade. 

l/4th R. Scots Fus. 

l/4th Royal Scots. 

l/5th H.L.I. 



l/6th „ 

l/4th K.O.S.B. 

l/7th Scot. Rifles. 

l/7th „ 



l/5th A. & S. Highrs. 

54th (East Anglian) Division. 

I6l8t Brigade. 

lQ2nd Brigade. 

l6Srd Brigade. 

l/4th Essex. 

l/5th Bedfords. 

l/4th Norfolk. 

l/5th „ 

l/4th Northants. 


l/6th „ 

1/lOth London. 

l/5th Suffolk. 

l/7th „ 

1/llth „ 

75th Division. 

l/8th Hampshire. 

232nd Brigade. 

233rd Brigade. 

234/71 Brigade. 

l/5th Devon. * 

l/5th Somersets. 

l/4th D.C.L.I. 

2/5th Hampshire. 

l/4th Wilts. 

2/4th Dorsets. 

2 /4th Somersets. 

2 /4th Hampshire. 

123rd Rifles. 

2/3rd Gurkhas. 

3/3rd Gurkhas. 

58th „ 


1st A.L.H. Regt. 




Anzac Mounted Division. 
2nd A.L.H. Bde. N.Z, Mtd. Rifles Bde. 

5th A.L.H. Regt. Auckland M. Rifles. 
„ Canterbury M. Rifles. 

„ Welhngton M. Rifles. 




Australian Mounted Division. 

3rd L.H. Brigade. 4ih L.H. Brigade. 5th Mtd. Brigade. 

8th A.L.H. Regt. 4th A.L.H. Regt. 1/lst Warwick Yeo. 




l/lst Gloucester Yeo. 
1/lst Worcester Yeo. 

Yeomanry Mounted Division. 

Ml Mtd. Brigade. Sth Mtd. Brigade. 22nd Mtd. Brigade 

1/lst City of London 

1/lst Bucks Hussars. 
1/lst Berkshire Yeo. 
1/lst Dorset Yeo. 

1/lst Co. of London 

l/3rd Co. of London 


1/lst Lincolnshire 

1/lst Staffordshire 

1/lst E. Riding 


7th Mounted Brigade (attached Desert Corps). 
1/lst Sherwood Rangers. 1/lst South Notts Hussars. 

Imperial Camel Brigade. 



There can be no better illustration of how one 
battle worked out ' according to plan ' than the 
quotation of the following Force Order : 


General Headquabtees, 
22nd October 1917. 

It is the intention of the Commander-in-Chief to take the 
offensive against the enemy at Gaza and at Beersheba, and 
when Beersheba is in our hands to make an enveloping 
attack on the enemy's left flank in the direction of Sheria 
and Hareira. 

On Zero day XXth Corps with the 10th Division and 
Imperial Camel Brigade attached and the Desert Mounted 
Corps less one Mounted Division and the Imperial Camel 
Brigade will attack the enemy at Beersheba with the object 
of gaining possession of that place by nightfall. 

As soon as Beersheba is in our hands and the necessary 
arrangements have been made for the restoration of the 
Beersheba water supply, XXth Corps and Desert Mounted 
Corps complete will move rapidly forward to attack the 
left of the enemy's main position with the object of driving 
him out of Sheria and Hareira and enveloping the left flank 
of his army. XXth Corps will move against the enemy's 
defences south of Sheria, first of all against the Kauwukah 
line and then against Sheria and the Hareira defences. 
Desert Mounted Corps calling up the Mounted Division left 
in general reserve during the Beersheba operation will move 
north of the XXth Corps to gain possession of Nejile and of 
any water supplies between that place and the right of 
XXth Corps and will be prepared to operate vigorously 
against and round the enemy's left flank if he should throw 
it back to oppose the advance of the XXth Corps. 

On a date to be subsequently determined and which will 
probably be after the occupation of Beersheba and 24 to 


48 hours before the attack of XXth Corps on the ELauwukah 
line, the XXlst Corps will attack the south-west defences 
of Gaza with the object of capturing the enemy's front-Une 
system from Umbrella Hill to Sheikh Hasan, both inclusive. 

The Royal Navy will co-operate with the XXIst Corps 
in the attack on Gaza and in any subsequent operations 
that may be undertaken by XXIst Corps. 

On Z— 4 day the G.O.C. XXIst Corps will open a systematic 
bombardment of the Gaza defences, increasing in volume 
from Z— 1 day to Zx2 day and to be continued until Zx4 
day at the least. 

The Royal Navy will co-operate as follows : On Z— 1 and 
Zero days two 6-inch monitors will be available for bom- 
bardment from the sea, special objective Sheikh Hasan. 
On Zero day a third 6-inch monitor will be available so that 
two of these ships may be constantly in action while one 
replenishes ammunition. On Zxl day 6-inch monitors will 
discontinue their bombardment which they will reopen 
on Zx2 day. From Zxl day the French battleship Requin 
and H.M.S. Raglan will bombard Deir Sineid station and 
junction for Huj, the roads and railway bridges and camps 
on the wadi Hesi and the neighbourhood. The Requin and 
Raglan will be assisted by a seaplane carrier. 

From Zero day one 9-2 monitor will be available from 
dawn, special objective Sheikh Redwan. 

From Z— 1 day inclusive demands for naval co-operation 
will be conveyed direct from G.O.C. XXIst Corps to the 
Senior Naval Officer, Marine View, who will arrange for 
the transmission of the demands so made. 

XXth Corps will move into position during the night of 
Z— l=Zero day so as to attack the enemy at Beersheba on 
Zero day south of the wadi Saba with two divisions while 
covering his flank and the construction of the railway 
east of Shellal with one division on the high ground over- 
looking the wadis E[l Sufi and Hanafish. The objective of 
XXth Corps will be the enemy's works west and south- 
west of Beersheba as far as the Khalasa-Beersheba road 

Desert Mounted Corps will move on the night of Z— l"«Zero 


day from the area of concentration about Klhalasa and 
Asluj so as to co-operate with XXth Corps by attacking 
Beersheba with two divisions and one mounted brigade. 
The objective of Desert Mounted Corps will be the enemy's 
defences from south-east to the north-east of Beersheba 
and the town of Beersheba itself. 

The G.O.C. Desert Mounted Corps will endeavour to 
turn the enemy's left with a view to breaking down his 
resistance at Beersheba as quickly as possible. With this 
in view the main weight of his force will be directed against 
Beersheba from the east and north-east. As soon as the 
enemy's resistance shows signs of weakening the G.O.C. 
Desert Mounted Corps will be prepared to act with the utmost 
vigour against his retreating troops so as to prevent their 
escape, or at least to drive them well beyond the high ground 
immediately overlooking the town from the north. He 
will also be prepared to push troops rapidly into Beersheba 
in order to protect from danger any wells and plant connected 
with the water supply not damaged by the enemy before 
Beersheba is entered. 

The Yeomanry Mounted Division will pass from the 
command of the G.O.C. XXth Corps at five on Zero day 
and will come directly under General Headquarters as part 
of the general reserve in the hands of the Commander-in- 

When Beersheba has been taken the G.O.C. XXth Corps 
will push forward covering troops to the high ground north 
of the town to protect it from any counter movement on 
the part of the enemy. He will also put in hand the restora- 
tion of the water supply in Beersheba. The G.O.C. Desert 
Mounted Corps will be responsible for the protection of 
the town from the north-east and east. 

As soon as possible after the taking of Beersheba the 
G.O.C. Desert Mounted Corps will report to G.H.Q. on the 
water supplies in the wells and wadis east of Beersheba and 
especially along the wadi Saba and the Beersheba-Tel-el- 
Nulah road. If insufi&cient water is found to exist in this 
area G.O.C. Desert Mounted Corps will send back such of 
his troops as may be necessary to watering places from which 


he started or which may be found in the country east of 
the KJialasa-Beersheba road during the operations. 

A preUminary survey having been made, the G.O.C. XXth 
Corps will report by wire to G.H.Q. on the condition of the 
wells and water supply generally in Beersheba and on any 
water supplies found west and north-west of that place. 
He will telegraph an estimate as soon as it can be made 
of the time required to place the Beersheba water supply 
in working order. 

When the situation as regards water at Beersheba has 
become clear so that the movement of XXth Corps and 
Desert Mounted Corps against the left flank of the enemy's 
main position can be arranged, the G.O.C. XXIst Corps 
will be ordered to attack the enemy's defences south-west 
of Gaza in time for this operation to be carried out prior 
to the attack of XXth Corps on the Kauwukah line of works. 
The objective of XXIst Corps will be the defences of Gaza 
from Umbrella Hill inclusive to the sea about Sheikh Hasan. 

Instructions in regard to the following have been issued 
separate to all corps : 

Amount of corps artillery allotted. 

Amount of ammunition put on corps charge prior to opera- 

Amount of ammunition per gun that will be delivered daily 
at respective railheads and the day of commencement. 

Amount of transport allotted for forward supply from 

The general average for one day's firing has been calculated 
on the following basis : 

Field and mountain guns and 

mountain howitzers . . .150 rounds per gun. 
4* 5-inch howitzers . . . .120 rounds per gun. 

60-pounders and 6-inch howitzers . 90 rounds per gun. 
8-inch howitzers and 6-inch Mark VII. 60 rounds per gun. 

This average expenditure will only be possible in the 
XXIst Corps up to Z X 1 6 day and for the Desert Mounted 
Corps and XXth Corps to Zxl3. After these dates if the 


average has been expended the daily average will have to 
drop to the basis of 100 rounds per 18-pounder per day and 
other natures in proportion. 

Aircraft, Army Weno. — Strategical reconnaissance in- 
cluding the reconnaissance of areas beyond the tactical zone 
and in which the enemy's main reserves are located, also 
distant photography and aerial offensive, will be carried out 
by an Army squadron under instructions issued direct from 
G.H.Q. Protection from hostile aircraft will be the main 
duty of the Army fighting squadron. A bombing squadron 
will be held in readiness for any aerial offensive which the 
situation may render desirable. 

Corps Squadrons. — Two Corps squadrons will under- 
take artillery co-operation, contact patrols, and tactical recon- 
naissance for the Corps to which they are attached. In the 
case of the Desert Mounted Corps one flight from the Corps 
squadron attached to XXth Corps will be responsible for 
the above work. Photography of trench areas will normally 
be carried out daily by the Army Wing. 




1. The Commander-in-Chief will enter Jerusalem by the 
Bab-el-Elhalil (Jaffa Gate) at 12 noon, 11th December 1917. 
The order of procession is shown below : 

Two Aides-de-camp. 
(Twenty paces.) 
O.C. Italian Palestine Commander -in- O.C. French Pales- 
Contingent (Col. Chief. tine Contingent 
Dagostino). (Col. Piepape). 

Staff Officer. Two Staff Officers. Staff Officer. 

(Ten paces.) 

M. Picot (Head of French Mission). 

French Mil. Brig. -Gen. Italian Mil. Att. American 

Att. (Capt. Clayton. (Major Caccia). Mil. Att. 

St. Quentin). (Col. Davis). 

(Five paces.) 

Chief of General Staff (Maj.-Gen. Su^ L. J. Bols). 

Brig. -General Greneral Staff (Brig. -Gen. G. Dawnay). 

(Five paces.) 

G.O.C. XXth Corps, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Philip W. Chetwode, 

Bart., D.S.O. 

Staff Officer. Brig. -Gen. Bartholomew. 

(Ten paces.) 
British Guard. 

AustraHan and New Zealand Guard. 
French Guard. 
Italian Guard. 

2. GuAEDS. — The following . guards will be found by 

XXth Corps : 

Outside the Gate — 

British Guard : Fifty of all ranks, including English, 
Scottish, Irish, and Welsh troops. 


Australian and New Zealand Guard : Fifty of all 
ranks, including twenty New Zealand troops. 
These guards will be drawn up facing each other, 
the right flank of the British guard and the 
left flank Australian guard resting on the City 
Wall. The O.C. British guard will be in 'com- 
mand of both guards and will give the words 
of command. 

Inside the Gate — 

French Guard : Twenty of all ranks. 
Itahan Guard : Twenty of all ranks. 

These guards will be drawn up facing each other, 
the left flank of the French guard and the right 
flank of the Italian guard resting on the City 

3. Salute. — On the approach of the Commander-in- 
Chief, guards will come to the Salute and present arms. 

4. The MiHtary Governor of the City will meet the Com- 
mander-in-Chief at the Gate at 12 noon. 

5. Route. — The procession will proceed via Sueikat Allah 
and El Maukaf Streets to the steps of El Kala (Citadel), 
where the notables of the City under the guidance of a Staff 
Ofi&cer of the Governor will meet the Commander-in-Chief 
and the Proclamation will be read to the citizens. The 
British, Australian and New Zealand, French and Itahan 
guards will, when the procession has passed them, take their 
place in column of fours in the rear of the procession in that 

On arrival at El Kala the guards will form up facing steps 
on the opposite {i.e. east) side of El Maukaf Street, the British 
guard being thus on the left, Italian guard on the right of 
the line, and remain at the slope. The British and Italian 
guards will bring up their left and right flanks respectively 
across the street south and north of El Kala. 

On leaving the Citadel the procession will proceed in the 
same order as before to the Barrack Square, where the Com- 
mander-in-Chief will confer with the notables of the City. 


On entering the Barrack Square the guards will wheel to 
the left and, keeping the left-hand man of each section of 
fours next the side of the Barrack Square, march round until 
the rear of the ItaHan guard has entered the Square, when 
the guards will halt, right turn (so as to face the centre of the 
Square), and remain at the slope. 

The procession will leave the City by the same route as it 
entered and in the same order. 

As the Commander-in-Chief and procession move off to 
leave the Barrack Square the guards will present arms, and 
then move off and resume their places in the procession, 
the British guard leading. 

On arrival at the Jaffa Gate the guards will take up their 
original positions, and on the Commander-in-Chief's de- 
parture will be marched away under the orders of the G.O.C. 
XXth Corps. 

6. Police, etc. — The Military Governor of the City will 
arrange for policing the route of the procession and for the 
searching of houses on either side of the route. He will also 
arrange for civil officials to read the Proclamation at 
El Kala. 



The Proclamation read from the steps of David's 
Tower on the occasion of the Commander-in-Chief's 
Official Entry into Jerusalem was in these terms : 

To the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the 
people dwelling in its vicinity : 

The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under 
my command has resulted in the occupation of your City 
by my forces. I therefore here and now proclaim it to be 
under martial law, under which form of administration it 
will remain as long as military considerations make it 

However, lest any of you should be alarmed by reason of 
your experiences at the hands of the enemy who has retired, 
I hereby inform you that it is my desire that every person 
should pursue his lawful business without fear of interruption. 
Furthermore, since your City is regarded with affection by 
the adherents of three of the great rehgions of mankind, and 
its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages 
of multitudes of devout people of those three religions for 
many centuries, therefore do I make it known to you that 
every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, tradi- 
tional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place 
of prayer, of whatsoever form of the three rehgions, will be 
maintained and protected according to the existing customs 
and behefs of those to whose faiths they are sacred. 



No story of the capture of Jerusalem would be 
complete without the tribute paid by General Allenby 
to his gallant troops of all arms. The Commander- 
in-Chief's thanks, which were conveyed to the troops 
in a Special Order of the Day, were highly appreciated 
by all ranks. The document ran as follows : 


G.H.Q., E.E.F., 

I5th December 1917. 

With the capture of Jerusalem another phase of the 
operations of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force has been 
victoriously concluded. 

The Commander-in-Chief desires to thank all ranks of all 
the units and services in the Force for the magnificent work 
which has been accompHshed. 

In forty days many strong Turkish positions have been 
captured and the Force has advanced some sixty miles on a 
front of thirty miles. 

The skill, gallantry, and determination of all ranks have 
led to this result. 

1. The approach marches of the Desert Mounted Corps 
and the XXth Corps (lOth, 53rd, 60th, and 74th Divisions), 
followed by the dashing attacks of the 60th and 74th Divi- 
sions and the rapid turning movement of the Desert Mounted 
Corps, ending in the fine charge of the 4th AustraHan Light 
Horse Brigade, resulted in the capture of Beersheba with 
many prisoners and guns. 

2. The stubborn resistance of the 53rd Division, units of 
the Desert Mounted Corps and Imperial Camel Brigade in 
the difficult country north-east of Beersheba enabled the 
preparations of the XXth Corps to be completed without 
interference, and enabled the Commander-in-Chief to carry 
out his plan without diverting more than the intended 


number of troops to protect the right flank, despite the many 
and strong attacks of the enemy. 

3. The attack of the XXth Corps (10th, 60th, and 74th 
Divisions), prepared with great skill by the Corps and Divi- 
sional Commanders and carried out with such dash and 
courage by the troops, resulted in the turning of the Turkish 
left flank and in an advance to the depth of nine miles through 
an entrenched position defended by strong forces. 

In this operation the Desert Mounted Corps, covering the 
right flank and threatening the Turkish rear, forced the 
Turks to begin a general retreat of their left flank. 

4. The artiUery attack of the XXIst Corps and of the 
ships of the Royal Navy, skilfully arranged and carried out 
with great accuracy, caused heavy loss to the enemy in the 
Gaza sector of his defences. The success of this bombard- 
ment was due to the loyal co-operation of the Rear- Admiral 
S.N.O. Egypt and Red Sea, and the officers of the Royal 
Navy, the careful preparation of plans by the Rear- Admiral 
and the G.O.C. XXIst Corps, and the good shooting of the 
Royal Navy, and of the heavy, siege, and field artillery of 
the XXIst Corps. 

5. The two attacks on the strong defences of Gaza, carried 
out by the 52nd and 54th Divisions, were each completely 
successful, thanks to the skill with which they were thought 
out and prepared by the G.O.C. XXIst Corps, the Divisional 
Commanders and the Brigade Commanders, and the great 
gallantry displayed by the troops who carried out these 

6. The second attack resulted in the evacuation of Gaza 
by the enemy and the turning of his right flank. The 52nd 
and 75th Divisions at once began a pursuit which carried 
them in three weeks from Gaza to within a few miles of 

7. This pursuit, carried out by the Desert Mounted Corps 
and these two Divisions of the XXIst Corps, first over the 
sandhills of the coast, then over the Plains of Palestine and 
the foothills, and finally in the rocky mountains of Judea, 
required from all commanders rapid decisions and powers 
to adapt their tactics to varying conditions of ground. The 


troops were called upon to carry out very long marches in 
great heat without water, to make attacks on stubborn 
rearguards without time for reconnaissance, and finally to 
suffer cold and privation in the mountains. 

In these great operations Commanders carried out their 
plans with boldness and determination, and the troops of all 
arms and services responded with a devotion and gallantry 
beyond praise. 

8. The final operations of the XXth Corps which resulted 
in the surrender of Jerusalem were a fitting climax to the 
efforts of all ranks. 

The attack skiKuUy prepared by the G.O.C. XXth Corps 
and carried out with precision, endurance, and gallantry 
by the troops of the 53rd, 60th, and 74th Divisions, over 
country of extreme difficulty in wet weather, showed skill 
in leading and gallantry and determination of a very high 

9. Throughout the operations the Royal Flying Corps 
have rendered valuable assistance to all arms and have 
obtained complete mastery of the air. The information 
obtained from contact and reconnaissance patrols has at 
all times enabled Commanders to keep in close touch with 
the situation. In the pursuit they have inflicted severe 
loss on the enemy, and their artillery co-operation has con- 
tributed in no small measure to our victory. 

10. The organisation in rear of the fighting forces enabled 
these forces to be supplied throughout. All supply and 
ammimition services and engineer services were called upon 
for great exertions. The response everywhere showed great 
devotion and high miHtary spirit. 

11. The thorough organisation of the lines of communica- 
tion, and the energy and skill with which all the services 
adapted themselves to the varying conditions of the opera- 
tions, ensured the constant mobility of the fighting 

12. The Commander-in-Chief appreciates the admirable 
conduct of all the transport services, and particularly the 
endurance and loyal service of the Camel Transport Corps. 

13. The skill and energy by which the Signal Service was 



maintained under all conditions reflects the greatest credit 
on all concerned. 

14. The Medical Service was able to adapt itself to all 
the difficulties of the situation, with the result the evacuation 
of wounded and sick was carried out with the least possible 
hardship or discomfort. 

15. The Veterinary Service worked well throughout ; the 
wastage in animals was consequently small considering the 
distances traversed. 

16. The Ordnance Service never failed to meet all demands. 

17. The work of the Egyptian Labour Corps has been of 
the greatest value in contributing to the rapid advance of 
the troops and in overcoming the difficulties of the com- 

18. The Commander-in-Chief desires that his thanks and 
appreciation of their services be conveyed to all officers and 
men of the force which he has the honour to command. 

G. Dawt^ay, B.G.G.S., 

for Major-General, Chief of the General 
Stafi, E.E.F. 



The men of units forming the XXth Corps were 
deeply gratified to receive this commendation from 
their gallant CoT-ps Commander : 



Lieutenant-General Sir Philip W. Chetwode, Bt., 
K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., commanding XXth Corps 

Headquabters, XXth Corps, 
\Uh December 1917. 

Now that the efforts of General Sir E. H. H. Allenby's 
Aimy have been crowned by the capture of Jerusalem, I 
wish to express to all ranks, services, and departments of the 
XXth Army Corps my personal thanks and my admiration 
for the soldierly qualities they have displayed. 

I have served as a regimental officer in two campaigns, 
and no one knows better than I do what the shortness of 
food, the fatigue of operating among high mountains, and 
the cold and wet has meant to the fighting troops. But in 
spite of it all, and at the moment when the weather was 
at its worst, they responded to my call and drove the 
enemy in one rush through his last defences and beyond 

A fine performance, and I am intensely proud of having 
had the honour of commanding such a body of men. 

I wish to give special praise to the Divisional Ammunition 
Columns, Divisional Trains A.S.C., Supply Services, Mechani- 
cal Transport personnel, Camel Transport personnel, and to 
the Royal Army Medical Corps and all services whose con- 
tinuous labour, day and night, almost without rest, alone 
enabled the fighting troops to do what they did. 



Headquabtkrs, XXth Corps, 
'31 St DtoemJjer 1917. 

I have again to thank the XXth Corps and to express to 
them my admiration of their bravery and endurance during 
the three days' fighting on December 27, 28, and 29. 

The enemy made a determined attempt with two corps 
to retake Jerusalem, and while their finest assault troops 
melted away before the staunch defence of the 53rd and 
60th Divisions, the 10th and 74th were pressing forward 
over the most precipitous country, brushing aside all op- 
position in order to relieve the pressure on our right. 

Their efforts were quickly successful, and by the evening 
of the 27th we had definitely regained the initiative, and 
I was able to order a general advance. 

The final result of the three days' fighting was a gain to 
us of many miles and extremely heavy losses to the enemy. 

A fine three days' work. 


Abu Shushe, 121. 
Adaeeh, 216. 
Ain Arik, 151. 

Karira, 1G2. 

Air Force honours, 261. 

Akir, 110. 

Allenby, General, 10. 

administration, 12. 

American Red Cross Society, 257. 
Arsuf, 235. 
Askalon, 104. 
Auja, River, 232. 

Baker, Colonel Sir Randolf, 116. 

Bald HUl, 243. 

Barrow, Major-General G. de S., 

Bartholomew, Brigadier-General, 

Bayley, Colonel, 189. 
Beersheba, Anzac march on, 61. 

battle of, 53. 

German preparations, 65. 

Beit Hannina, 192. 

Iksa, 172. 

Izza, 145. 

Jala, 175. 

ur el Foka, 149. 

ur et Tahta, 150. 

Beitunia, 149. 

Bethany, 193. 

Beth-horons, 149. 

Bethlehem, 186. 

Biblical battlefields, 8. 

Biddu, 145. 

Bireh, 151. 

Bols, Major-General, 207. 

Borton, Major-General, 206. 

Bulfin, Lieutenant-General, 18. 

Bulteel, Captain, 115. 

Burkah, 109. 

Butler, Brigadier-General, 134. 

Chauvel, Lieutenant -Greneral, 18. 
Chaytor, Major-General, 61. 
Cheape, Lieutenant-Colonel H., 91. 
Chetwode, Lieutenant -Greneral Sir 

P., 18. 
thanks to XXth Corps troops, 

Clayton, Brigadier-General, 207. 
Colston, Brigadier-General, 109. 
Cox, Brigadier-Greneral, 62. 
Cripps, Colonel Hon. F., 113. 

Dammers, Captain, 116. 
Dawnay, Brigadier-Greneral, 207. 
Deir Sineid, 102. 

Yesin, 172. 

de Rothschild, Major, 117. 
Desert railways, 35. 

pipeline, 38. 

Dukku, 145. 

Ektelf, 252. 
El Jib, 145. 
El Kala, 207. 
Enver, 199. 

Farah, wadi, 249. 

Force Order, General Allenby 's 

thanks tc troops, 287. 
Ful, Tel el, 192. 

Gaza, plan of attack on, 47. 

Ali Muntar, 72. 

defences, 69. 

El Arish redoubt, 77. 

■ Great Mosque, 68. 

• naval gunnery, 79. 

■ Outpost Hill, 75. 

Sea Post, 78. 




Gaza. Sheikh Hasan, 78. 

Umbrella Hill, 77. 

German Hospice, 143. 
Gilgal, 248. 

Girdwood, Major-General, 59. 
Godwin, Brigadier-General, 112. 
Good Samaritan Inn, 246. 
Grant, Brigadier-General, 64. 

Hadrah, 157. 

Hanafish, action on wadi, 54. 

Hebron, 187. 

Hill 1070, 58. 

Hill, Major-General J., 141. 

Hodgson, Major-General, 62. 

Hong Kong and Singapore battery, 

Huj, 91. 

Ibn Obeid, 222. 

Imperial Service cavalry, 100. 

Jackson, Admiral T., 244. 
Jaffa, 236. 

Gate, 198. 

Jebel Kuruntul, 248. 
Jelil, 238. 
Jericho, 247. 
Jerisheh, 240. 
Jerusalem, battle of, 175. 

civil administration, 258. 

Memorial to Army, 9. 

— — Official Entry, 195. 

order of procession, 283. 

Proclamation to people, 286. 

water supply, 254. 

Jordan, 245. 

Jezar, 123. 

Junction Station, 119. 

Katrah, 110. 
Kuntara, 34. 
Kauwukah, 84. 
Khurbet Subr, 172. 
Khuweilfeh, 82. 
Kressenstein, von, 64. 
Kulonieh, 172. 
Kuryet el Enab, 138. 
Kustul, 141. 

Latron, 129. 
Laweon, Captain, 116. 

Lifta, 158. 

Longley, Major-General, 218. 

Ludd, 126. 

M'Call, Brigadier-General PoUak, 

Maclean, Brigadier- General, 142. 
Mejdel, 104. 

Meldrum, Brigadier-General, 62. 
Mott, Major-General, 186. 
Mount of Olives, 192. 
Mughar, 112. 
Mukhmas, 248. 
Mulebbis, 236. 

Nablus road, 212. 
Nebi Musa, 249. 
Nebi Samwil, 141. 
Nejile, 90. 

O'Brien, Colonel, 119. 

Palestine Army, composition of, 

Palin, Major-General, 99. 
Patron, Captain, 113. 
Pemberton, Colonel, 188. 
Perkins, Lieutenant, 113. 
Primrose, Captain Hon. Neil, 115. 

Ramaxlah, 151. 

Ramleh, 126. 

Raratongas, 37. 

Ras et Tawil, 218. 

Rushdi trenches, 84. 

Ryrie, Brigadier-General, 61. 

Saba, Tel el, 62. 

Sakaty, Tel el, 62. 

Saris, 137. 

Sarona, 239. 

Shea, Major-General H., 59. 

Sheikh Muannis, 157. 

Sheria, 84. 

Sherifeh, 187. 

Shilta, 154. 

Smith, Rifleman, 180. 

Soba, 174. 

Solomon's Pools, 175. 

Strategy in Palestine, 6. 

the German view, 271. 



Suffa. 154. 

Supplying the front, 36. 
Surar, wadi, 173. 
Sukereir, wadi, 127. 

Talat ED DUMM, 246. 
Temperley, 93. 
Thornhill, Corporal, 180. 
Train, Corporal, V.C, 180. 
Turkish line of communications, 15. 
moral, 273. 

Watson, Brigadier-General, 178. 
Whines, Corporal, 180. 
Whitehill, 215. 

Wingfiold-Digby, Captain, 116. 
Wire roads, 40. 

Yebnah, 110. 

Yilderim undertaking. 13. 

von Falkeniiayn's doubts, 269. 

Zamby, 215. 
Zeitun ridge, 149. 


Printed by T. and A. Constablk, Printers to His .Viajeaty 
at tlie Edinburgh Univeraity Prc^s 





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